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Hooked and hoodwinked (SPOILERS!)
on 27 March 2014
I am hooked on the Mary Russell series and currently borrowing them all in sequence from the library. King is an American author who (mostly) gets 1920s England right. The dialogue is great and I find the maturing of Holmes believable. The concept of his mentoring an intelligent, independent young woman was a good one and the stories exciting. The mutual attraction of the characters is at last made manifest at the climax of this story. Some have found this off-putting but I enjoyed it.
However, I couldn't understand why Holmes simply accepted Russell's account of the 'healing' without question. This was out of character. I noted and enjoyed Holmes's criticism of Doyle's belief in the fairy photographs. Presumably King put these two events into the same novel purposely, to let us know that she herself believes that inexplicable things can happen, as long as they are to do with God! After all the stress on logical methods to solve problems, this is worrying. That said, I loved all the stuff about the mistranslations in scripture to oppress women.
The plot does wrong-foot you a bit because of the doubts over the motives of the mystic. The author is challenging how strong a feminist you are! In the end there is a good, old-fashioned villain.
Drug abuse is also dealt with in this book - it's as if the author is getting a lot of stuff out of her system before she can begin the series proper, with the two characters as equals. Poor Mary has gone through a lot of physical torment already and this is only Book Two! She deserves some marital consolation with Sherlock.
I loved the 'Q' references [James Bond]. Overall, an exciting book and made me want to continue reading the series.