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Pirate King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) Paperback – April 17, 2012

2.9 out of 5 stars 313 customer reviews
Book 11 of 13 in the Mary Russell Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An engaging romp guaranteed to please . . . perfectly written in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”—USA Today
 
“Brilliant . . . [This] tangled web includes some very high comedy from Gilbert and Sullivan, pirates, and early moviemaking.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“Fast-paced and funny.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
 
LAURIE R. KING’S BESTSELLING NOVELS OF SUSPENSE FEATURING MARY RUSSELL AND SHERLOCK HOLMES ARE . . .
 
“Audacious.” —Los Angeles Times
 
“Delightful and creative.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Lively adventure in the very best of intellectual company.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Rousing . . . riveting . . . suspenseful.” —Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Beguiling . . . tantalizing.” —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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Product Details

  • Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Book 7)
  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780553386752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553386752
  • ASIN: 0553386751
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved the first book in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and have read every book in the series as soon as it was published. I was delighted from the start of the series when the young bluestocking, Mary Russell, met up with Sherlock Holmes. Their partnership was filled with erudite and witty repartee, and they traveled the world together sleuthing in ingenious disguises and using elaborate ruses to escape peril.

But then something strange happened. King began separating Holmes and Russell. When this trend began, the books would describe each of the partners' doings, which were bookended with scenes of them together. Later on, though, their time together became strictly limited and Mary's separate role was emphasized.

Pirate King takes this trend even further. In this book, Holmes is entirely absent for a good two-thirds of the book and the pair are together for very few pages. I would estimate that scenes of the two of them together total only about 20 pages or so out of more than 300 pages.

Mary is persuaded by Holmes and Inspector Lestrade to go undercover as a director's assistant with Fflytte Films as they head to Lisbon and Morocco to make a silent film about Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. "How can there be a silent film about an operetta?," I hear you ask. It turns out the project is about a film crew trying to make a film about The Pirates of Penzance. The play-within-a-play conceit becomes ever more elaborate, as Mary works with actors playing the parts of pirates, constables, British officers and coquettish daughters, and many of the actors turn out to be something other than what they seem.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Laurie King's Pirate King follows The God of the Hive: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes as the 11th story in the series begun by The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Or On the Segregation of the Queen/A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Mary Russell Novels).

The Pirate King of the title is a reference to the Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan, a reference appropriate both in plot and motif. William S. Gilbert himself might have appreciated the ending, which mixes Gilbert's fairytale style with a mercantile Machiavellianism. It is much to her credit that Laurie King actually pulls it off. (Though some might disagree, the only part that seems implausible to me is the pace of those particular events.)

King's narrative is generally good and her descriptive skills a bit better. I found them actually moving in spots; others may disagree.

The story's weaknesses are the tangle of story layers necessary (a story about an adventure whilst filming a movie about the making of a play) and a certain formulaic feel to some of the Russell-Holmes scenes. One in particular has me wondering whether King lost touch with her characters or whether she is planning some future development. In my opinion, the best books in the series are the early ones that develop that relationship. At this point, it may be hard to sustain continued development, especially as King has castled Holmes queen-side, moving him well out of the reader's eye for most of the story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a lifelong Holmesophile and recently read all the Mary Russell novels. I heave enjoyed them all and reread them many times. Not only do the novels continue and develop Holmes as an immensely intelligent and humane observer of the human condition, but each novel has an interesting underlying theme. Justice Hall reflects on the impact of the 14-18 war on the English psyche, Locked Room meditates on how to deal with childhood trauma, The Moor evokes the archetypal strangeness of a wild and remote landscape. With humor, wit and reasoning thrown in who could not enjoy such a multi-layer literary cake?

In Pirates, Ms King has abandoned all this and appears to have chosen to write a completely dumbed down novel. Holmes and Mary Russell have each lost 40 IQ points. The plot is a farce, in both senses. It is as if she decided to write a screenplay for a summer tentpole movie where any trace of thought, complex ideas or character development has to be carefully expunged to leave something understandable by a four year old. The transition from the earlier novels is so gross, and the author so intelligent, that one feels this must have been a decision rather just a tired author throwing out the next in a series to garner some cash.

In short, if you enjoyed the earlier Mary Russell novels save your dollars and don't buy this one.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all the previous books in this series and have loved them. I checked repeatedly for the next one and was delighted to discover PIRATE KING. I feel like it was written by a different person with another style and another tempo. i couldn't read it! I tried but quit about a third of the way in. i am wondering if ms. king let an apprentice write this one. I am very disappointed.
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