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4.1 out of 5 stars
Garment of Shadows (Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2012
It must be at least 20 years since I last overshot my stop on the Tube, and that was because I fell asleep. Last night it happened again, but this time I was far from asleep; rather, I was captive in a dungeon underground with Mary, as she tried to break free from her shackles and save the life of the weakening Mahmoud. There are excellent reviews here which cover this period of Moroccan history and politics so I shall not rehearse them again here, but this is an exciting book in which LRK has found her form again, after the rather disappointing Pirate King. There is a novella at the end, Beekeeping for beginners, which returns to the first meeting of Holmes and Russell, and elaborates on a scenario where Russell's considerable inheritance puts her at risk from relatives who plot to.... no, read it for yourselves!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2012
I love it when authors return to their usual quality after a failed attempt at doing something really interesting. The last Laurie R. King Sherlock Holmes novel was a seriously weak attempt at farce. In her latest Holmes novel, Garment of Shadows, King returns us to the Holmes and Mary Russell we all know and love. With political intrigue, investigation, twists and turns, as well as some great historical information, this is a standout novel and a refreshing return to the normal.

After the events of The Pirate King, Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, are in Morocco in 1924. The novel opens with Russell waking up locked in a room with no memory of who she is or how she got there, a painful headache the only reminder of what has happened. She's covered in blood, which can't be a good sign. She still has her wits, and when soldiers come banging on her door, she's able to get away. Meanwhile, two old friends have drawn Holmes into a growing conflict between France, Spain, and the strengthening Moroccan independence movement. War may be coming to Morocco. Will Russell find her memory--and Holmes--before things get worse?

I love the conceit in King's books that Russell is their author and King merely the editor. There's even an author's note in Garment of Shadows about how some of the events in the book happened while she wasn't there, and that she took them from disjointed segments, remarks, and testimonies told over the next few weeks and even years. She says that if this makes readers think the book is fiction, so be it.

King demonstrates that the previous book was just a bump in the road, bringing back the suspense and mystery that her books are known for and allowing the brief humorous asides to lighten the mood instead of trying to be zany. That doesn't mean there aren't some funny bits in this novel, such as the first time Russell meets up with Holmes while her memory is still gone. I hope Holmes' head is feeling better. Moments like this are where King shines.

Her characterization skills are on showcase, too. Holmes is perfect, seemingly aloof to the whole thing, his mind working feverishly to figure out what is going on while nobody else can do so. Still, we see that he does truly care for Russell, even though he is not a publicly demonstrative person. Russell works great as a narrator, especially with her amnesia. King captures Russell's uncertainty throughout the whole thing yet also shows her cunning mind as she slowly works out what must be true and who she might have been. The other characters are also fairly three-dimensional, even the young boy who can't (or won't) speak but who seems to be everywhere, saying a great deal through motions and actions.

One of the many strengths of Garment of Shadows is the historical detail King puts into it. Much of the information on the Rif Revolt in the early 1920s was brand new to me, and it inspired me to search out what really happened, to see how much of the story was true and how much was King weaving her own characters into the fabric of history. This is the sign of a well-researched book, when the seams of the story fit together so perfectly.

The only minor fault in Garment of Shadows is that occasionally it slows down as King explores the setting and explains what's going on in the world around the characters. This doesn't happen often, though, and the duration is usually short. Barbara Hambly always manages to integrate setting and action to great effect, but King doesn't do as good a job in this case.

That's the only thing that mars an otherwise wonderful book full of twists and turns, characters who may not be who they appear to be, and just a little bit of action. It's nice having our old friends back.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book © Dave Roy, 2012
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 October 2012
It's 1924 and Sherlock Holmes is in Morocco trying to trace his wife, Mary Russell - while in Fez, a woman wakes up in a strange room, with no memory of who she is or why she's there....

I've dipped in and out of this series which follows Holmes and his sometime apprentice, now wife, on their post-Conan Doyle adventures. This certainly isn't a book for Holmes purists as, apart from the wife, Holmes also gets into some very politicised situations.

Set amongst Arab revolts against colonialism in the inter-war years, in the aftermath of T.E. Lawrence (`Laurence of Arabia'), this is a complex story of spies, gun-runners, and counter-spies, while Mycroft Holmes pulls strings from England.

I liked this a lot though it helps to have read the previous books as characters do reappear. So perhaps a challenging read to die-hard fans of the original Victorian Holmes, but an amusing read with serious undertones if you can accept a Holmes transformed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2013
Laurie King, please, stop churning out Mary Russell novels just because your publisher
is screaming for the next one. The first five were great, and then, slowly, book by book,
the character and originality, the verve and humour, the very life of the two leading
people has been bled dry. Stop. Pirate King was awful. This was awful. Enough. Please.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 5 October 2012
It's 1924 and Sherlock Holmes is in Morocco trying to trace his wife, Mary Russell - while in Fez, a woman wakes up in a strange room, with no memory of who she is or why she's there...

I've dipped in and out of this series which follows Holmes and his sometime apprentice, now wife, on their post-Conan Doyle adventures. This certainly isn't a book for Holmes purists as, apart from the wife, Holmes also gets into some very politicised situations.

Set amongst Arab revolts against colonialism in the inter-war years, in the aftermath of T.E. Lawrence (`Laurence of Arabia'), this is a complex story of spies, gun-runners, and counter-spies, while Mycroft Holmes pulls strings from England.

I liked this a lot though it helps to have read the previous books as characters do reappear. So perhaps a challenging read for die-hard fans of the original Victorian Holmes, but an amusing book with serious undertones if you can accept a Holmes transformed.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher).
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on 11 October 2014
This was a disappointing read.

There's an appeal to the conceit of finding an intelligent and capable female partner for Sherlock Holmes, rather like Harriet Vane and Lord Wimsey. But the partnership must be greater than the sum of its parts, and must also be interesting of itself. And if you're going to have plots that deal with diplomacy after the Great War, then it's as well to see that they have historic credibility.

There are two parts of this book where King's writing is superb. Both involve Mary Russell essentially on her own, with King brilliantly exploring her character's responses to unusual situations: they're the opening amnesia-dominated days in Fez, and the later subterranean incarceration. The book's almost worth it for these bits alone. But not quite.

The plot is laboured, creaks throughout, and finally shatters in an explanatory scene that needed a Poirot to do in justice. No originalityThe absent Mycroft Holmes again has a lot to answer for. The two Anglo-arab characters just aren't credible. In O Jerusalem there was enough of Lawrence of Arabia around to build a collage; not here, And what on Earth was Mary Russell doing in Morocco in the first place? And I thought that Spain had a bit of Morocco in the 20's only because France had given it to them, and exercised strict control over its politics.

If you must read it, borrow it from your library. We mustn't encourage to talented Ms King to write any more unless she does a lot better.
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on 13 September 2013
I need to admit that this is the first novel of the series that I've read and I just have to point out that I really enjoyed it. The author doesn't only seem to know her subject well, but is also quite capable of creating a compelling background for the story.

In these pages we first meet Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes' wife, in the Moroccan city of Fez, feeling at a complete loss. She can't remember who she is, doesn't know where she is, and to add to that she's covered with blood, and there soldiers knocking on her door, seeking to arrest her. What is she supposed to do? Run, of course!

And run she does, but from whom and why she knows not. Her memory is failing her, probably that nasty wound on the head has something to do with it, however her intellect is alive and kicking and that's exactly what will keep her going until she finds the truths that she deserves.

But while she tries to find out her hows and whys her husband, Sherlock, is trying to discover her whereabouts. He's just got back to Rabat, where Mary was supposed to be taking part in the shooting of a movie, only to find out that she went missing. According to the witnesses, while in the desert, a young boy visited her with a message, and, she just got up and left, leaving behind nothing but a note that said that she was going to Fez. Who was the boy? What did he say to make her give up everything and follow him? And who was it that sent him to her?

Well, the famous detective is left with no other option but to follow the only lead that's come his way. So he travels to Fez in search of his ex-apprentice and current wife, a woman who in his own eyes looks more formidable than himself.

His journey will lead him to some old friends and create for him a few new enemies, but at the same time it will provide the reader with the opportunity to learn a little bit about the history of the country (the events take place in 1924), and will also teach him a couple of things about the famous divide and conquer rule of the European countries, that would plague the Arab and the African world for years to come.

Russell and Holmes, as they like to call each other, make a great couple of fighters and investigators, but in my eyes the most important elements in this story are the historical background and the location. There's plenty of action and quite a few twists and turns, but it is Morocco, with all its beauty and its harshness that makes this story such a pleasure to read.

As for the rest of the characters: The boy, the rebels, the colonizers, the bandits, they all have something to offer to the plot. And when they turn from guest stars into central figures the action really explodes.

After reading this book I couldn't help but wonder about what this amazing heroine has been up to in the past. If time allows it I will travel back and find out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2013
After mixed reviews for her previous Mary Russell novel, 'The Pirate King', Laurie R King hits top form with 'Garment of Shadows'. The writing style paints a vivid picture of the narrow streets of Fez and the mysterious adventures that are found there. A few old friends also make an appearance to help ensure this book stands up to the high standards shown throughout the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2014
I think I may call it a day for Mary Russel. I have loved these books, but I think the ideas are running thin, and the last three have been disappointing for me. This latest is certainly an improvement on the last, but has nothing of the cleverness of the earlier novels. I think I shall save my money and do some re-reading instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2013
Like a lot of readers I was not very impressed with the 'Pirate King' compared to the previous standard of books. This book which picks up the story almost straight after however is a really good, satisfying read with everything you would expect of Holmes and Russell.
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