God of the Hive, The (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Mystery) Paperback – 6 Jun 2011
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'The Mary Russell series is the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today, and this is the best instalment yet' Lee Child
About the Author
Laurie R. King is the first novelist since Patricia Cornwell to win prizes for Best First Crime Novel on both sides of the Atlantic with the publication of her debut thriller, A Grave Talent. She is the best-selling author of seven Mary Russell mysteries, four contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, and the best-selling novels A Darker Place and Folly. She lives in northern California.
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This book shows Russell and Holmes coming back together after being separated at the end of "The Language of Bees". There are, of course, airplane crashes, murder attempts, disguises, hidden messages and chases through the back streets of London first! I enjoyed spending more time with characters introduced in the first book - the pilot Javitz, Damien, and the charmingly precocious (maybe too much so?) Estrella. A new character is Robert Goodman - I found parts of his story a little thin, like he could have had his own book, but he was an enjoyable character to spend time with.
The one part of this book I didn't enjoy so much was the ending - it felt a little rushed, and since the Baddie from the first book is dispatched without much fanfare without another confrontation with our heroes, I would have liked a more well-rounded, satisfying, ending to this book. However, I can't say that it didn't tidy up most of the loose ends and laid a few tantalising clues for future plots without making me feel it was just setting up for another sequel. That is to say, this book concludes the story from "The Language of Bees", and sits well as a book in a series without feeling that the story is being left abruptly.
That being said, I do hope that the next book in the series allows us to spend some more time with Holmes and Russell together - I don't always feel that they're working in tandem in their partnership, let alone as a married couple. I want domesticity. Just a little bit, before the next mystery comes along!
A must-buy for any fans of the Mary Russell series, although I couldn't recommend this novel as a starting point for a new reader.
The die hard Sherlockian in me can't read the start of a chapter beginning with the words 'Chief Inspector Lestrade' without at least a slight twitch of my arm muscles (perhaps to punch the air) even if this Lestrade is a younger chip off the original block. A lengthy interlude in the wild woods of northern England takes up a large section of the book, including the introduction of a new character called Goodman. A man with a tortured history of war damaged psychosis, King fancies as an embodiment of the English folklore legend of The Green Man and a similar revisit to another of King's character experiments - see the Martinelli book To Play the Fool. It's this particular Holy Fool who is partly responsible for a funeral so bizarre it might not have looked out of place on an episode of The Prisoner.
The writing is as good as ever but with the plot, thin though it is, sidelined so often the experience isn't quite as compelling as usual. When the plot does finally emerge from the London fog with so few pages remaining I was beginning to think we were going to end as the last book ended with another 'TO BE CONTINUED'. Thankfully that doesn't happen and we are treated belatedly to a proper Reichenbach style finale in the shadow of Big Ben.
Drawing on some unresolved plot threads from 'The Language of Bees' it shifts its attention away from a murderous religious maniac and onto what happened to Mycroft Holmes (whose flat had been raided by the police at the end of the last book). Our protagonists face a threat different and greater than they had and one which, at first, they are blind to.
Elements of the main plot of 'The Language of Bees' are wrapped up swiftly. King has a new story to tell: the secretive world of intelligence and politicking leap to the fore. King feels much more comfortable with this than the unconvincing false faith that powered the storyline of the previous novel. Dark deeds are done and type of madness is present behind it all, but here it makes comprehensible sense, rather than the feeling the author is using irrationality as an excuse for plot contrivance.
The story is more complex and is multi-stranded as Holmes and Russell go their own ways and Mycroft ponders his fate. This helps the story: it adds tension and it allows Holmes's role to be a bit more than purely bit part player and deus ex machina (though some lengths are gone to to keep him away from the main action).
Overall though, this is a huge improvement. Worth reading.
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