RogerBW's Blog

Pirate King, Laurie R. King 19 October 2014

Eleventh in King's series about Mary Russell, who… well, this is basically Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, but against all the odds it manages to work. Strange things have been happening around a film crew; Russell joins it to work out what's going on.

The elephant in the room: yes, Mary Russell is something of a Mary Sue, in that she's Holmes's intellectual and physical equal (and wife). I continue to be surprised that King manages to pull this off; it should be horribly self-indulgent, but instead it comes over as genuine and convincing.

Earlier novels in this series have been grimly serious and with highly complex plots, but this one is essentially farcical, and I was frankly surprised by King's light touch (especially having also read a couple of her Kate Martinelli series). It's not much of a mystery, since the solutions are obvious nearly as soon as the questions arise, but as an adventurous romp explicitly inspired by The Pirates of Penzance it doesn't do badly at all. By many people's standards the start is very slow, but King writes enjoyably and obviously wanted to squeeze in her research into certain historical characters. And there's a fine demonstration of the dramatic principle of Chekov's Piano.

You could probably read this one on its own, but it's not at all characteristic of the series, so I wouldn't recommend that you start here. Followed by Garment of Shadows.

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Series: Mary Russell | Next in series: Garment of Shadows

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