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A Letter of Mary: A Mary Russell Novel (Mary Russell Novels) [Mass Market Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Dec 1998 Mary Russell Novels
Late in the summer of 1923, Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the illustrious Sherlock Holmes, are ensconced in their home on the Sussex Downs, giving themselves over to their studies: Russell to her theology, and Holmes to his malodorous chemical experiments. Interrupting the idyllic scene, amateur archaeologist Miss Dorothy Ruskin visits with a startling puzzle. Working in the Holy Land, she has unearthed a tattered roll of papyrus with a message from Mary Magdalene. Miss Ruskin wants Russell to safeguard the letter. But when Miss Ruskin is killed in a traffic accident, Russell and Holmes find themselves on the trail of a fiendishly clever murderer. Clearly there was more to Miss Ruskin than met the eye. But why was she murdered? Was it her involvement in the volatile politics of the Holy Land? Was it her championing of women's rights? Or was it the scroll--a deeply troubling letter that could prove to be a Biblical bombshell? In either case, Russell and Holmes soon find that solving her murder may be murder itself.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; Reissue edition (1 Dec 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553577808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553577808
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 10.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 601,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘Crime fiction’s most unlikely but utterly credible romance… Laurie King is the most interesting writer to emerge on the American crime fiction front in recent years’
Val McDermid (of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice)

‘An inventive variation on the Sherlock Holmes myth’
Time Out

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The third novel in Laurie King's riveting and intelligent series featuring Sherlock Holmes and his partner in sleuthing, Mary Russell.

It is August 1923 and all is quiet in the Holmes household in Sussex. Mary Russell works on academic research while Sherlock Holmes conducts malodorous chemistry experiments. Butthe peace comes crashing down when a figure from Mary's past enters their lives: Dorothy Ruskin, an amateur archaeologist recently returned from the Holy Land, pays the couple a visit, bringing with her a gift – a charming inlaid box containing a tattered roll of stained papyrus.

The evening following their meeting, Miss Ruskin dies in a traffic accident that Holmes and Mary soon prove was murder. But what was the motivation? Was it the inlaid box holding the manuscript? Or the woman's involvement in the volatile politics of the Holy Land? Or could it have been the scroll itself, a deeply troubling letter apparently written by Mary Magdalene that contains a biblical bombshell …

"A beguilding variation on Sherlock Holmes sequels."

"Mary Russell combines the quirky intellect of her mentor with a modern modus operandi… A heroine to contend with."

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes' better half? 10 May 2003
By Michael Finn TOP 1000 REVIEWER
If like me you can't bring yourself to believe that the restless mind of the great detective Sherlock Holmes could ever be content with the study of beekeeping you won't be surprised by the discovery of yet more lost manuscripts detailing his post retirement adventures. The Beekeeper's Apprentice introduced the character of Mary Russell; A Letter of Mary takes place years later and Mary has now married Sherlock - shocked gasp. King's books are meticulously researched and are fascinating studies of the era even without all the Holmsian trapping that she has so effortlessly reinvented and made her own without ever coming close to pastiche. I don't think there can be many fans of Holmes who would be disappointed with her treatment of the character.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I was relieved when I found this series; an intelligent and well-written continuation to the career of Sherlock Holmes that never slips into pastiche.

This is the third of the Mary Russell books, although it could be read on its own. Mary and Sherlock Homes are now married, and although it isn't the most convincing marriage in the world, it is quite a convincing partnership. Mary is approached by an old acquaintance, a feminist archaeologist, who brings her a papyrus which is supposedly a letter written by Mary Magdalene. On the night following this meeting the archaeologist becomes the victim of a hit and run accident and Mary and Sherlock investigate.

Again, this is an interesting and atmospheric book and takes an interesting approach to the Sherlock Holmes way of investigating (especially as investigating techniques have changed and improved since he first started out.) My only disappointment was that the ending was something of an anti-climax. It wouldn't stop me reading others in the series though
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Holmes is annoyingly American 29 July 2010
By ScottyK
I noticed it occasionally in the first 2 books, but in this one it seems that Laurie R King has given up her attempts to use realistically English dialogue. Mary can of course justifiably speak American English, but Mycroft, Lestrade and Holmes should not. It is really really starting to grate, as are the anachronisms and occasional lapses in sense. This lack of attention to detail makes for a read on a level with some not very good web fanfiction. This is a shame as despite my initial reservations I find Mary Russell and her relationship quite convincing.

There is a definite anti-climax to this book, even if this is sort of an in-joke.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, fast paced crime novel 14 May 2004
One of my favourite Laurie R. King books, this novel has a hugely entertaining and fast paced plot.
Mary Russell meets an old friend who has a rather controversial theory regarding Mary Magdeline, which she is about to make public. Her theory is arousing feelings of enmity amongst her male colleagues. The friend also shows Mary a rather mysterious puzzle box. Shortly afterwards this friend is killed in a hit and run incident. Accident or murder ? Holmes and Mary investigate.
Unlike some of her other Sherlock Holmes pastiches, this novel does not feature the rather lengthy historical travel descriptions which bogged down King's other novels "Oh Jerusalem" and "The Moor". A gripping and entertaining crime novel featuring King's wonderful characterisations of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. I enjoyed this as much as I did "A Monstous Regiment Of Women"... hugely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letter-perfect 15 April 2010
By Jack
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the third novel in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series of detective novels written by Laurie R. King. I love the entire series, but this is one of my favourites, and I've found myself returning to it again and again.

King's depiction of Mary Russell is compelling - she gives her character a unique, feminist, intelligent voice which is often hard to find in contemporary fiction. Mary Russell is a woman you feel you'd like to get to know better. King's genius is in making Sherlock Holmes into a supporting actor in the stories - he is the same Holmes that Conan Doyle wrote, but he is humanised in his retirement, and his under-stated love for Mary Russell. The central relationship between the two is beautifully drawn, and King displays a deftness of touch which keeps you coming back for more.

The mystery at the heart of the book is worthy of Conan Doyle, and is solved in appropriate fashion, with Holmes and Russell working in partnership. King enjoys showing off her erudition here, and the themes of an Apocryphal document purportedly from Mary Magdalene, containing explosive information about Mary Magdalene's status, is handled with such aplomb that Dan Brown ought to weep into his coffee.

Highly recommend this engaging, intriguing, and fantastically well written book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Letter of Mary? Not so much. 22 Feb 2010
By hornist
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Although enjoyable, this novel wasn't quite what I was expecting. I was hoping that the novel would delve into the discovery of a 1st century papyrus scroll in much more detail than it did. As it were, it merely added a touch more mystery to this novel.

The book followed Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell's investigation of the murder of a friend of theirs.

Overall, I found the plot rather thin. However, the brief appearance of Watson in the story brought much more humour to the book. It was nice to see a much more mature view of Sherlock Holmes as well.

I did run across my most favourite quote of all times in this novel: "...as patient as a concert pianist attending a children's piano recital."

A quick read, but one I will not return to.
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