Again, King is guilty of quantity not quality. If she focused more intently on each book, rather than moving directly into the next, made it seem less of a money-making scheme and more of a craft, she might get better reviews. The character of Mary isn't set - she fluctuates wildy - there's a suggestion of a serious crush on an older female figure, & there's no real evidence than she loves Holmes as an equal - yet she marries him. She expresses a love for her mother figure, Mrs Hudson, yet indicates she'd like to break away entirely and move to Oxford. There is no consistency, no depth, no believability. The blurb on the back of the book suggests "a deeper affection" between her and Holmes, yet there is no sign of this in the book itself - certainly nowhere near enough to explain why he suddenly asks a much younger woman to marry him. It's so against the Holmes character that it feels wrong from the start. Speaking of Holmes' character, there is very little of that in the King books - other than the first one. She touches on stock and trade elements of his character, such as his dislike of tactile affection, but there is no depth. They barely converse, in fact, other than about the case. What is most confusing is trying to figure out of Mary is happy! In all the books, there's no real sense of fulfilment, no sense of joy - Doyle, whilst portraying an apparently emotionless character, managed to give Holmes huge depth, a clearly repressed well of emotion, a man who thrived on detective work. All of this is lacking in King's interpretation of Holmes. Mary is similarly lacking in emotion - but she's not even repressing it. She just has no real depth of feeling - except her grief for the dead mentor in this book. Again, the blurb claims she has 'passion', yet she expresses no real passion for anything - her home, her future husband, her detective work. Two emotionless figures, without the depth of Doyle's characters, and no Watson to provide emotional context, leaves us with an empty feeling of time wasted on this very odd book.
Mary Russell is more or less on her own in this second adventure. At the ripe age of 21, Mary comes into her inheritance and through a friend, is introduced to the New Temple of God and its mystical leader, Margery Childe. Her feminism and theology fascinate Mary, but when a series of murders claim the lives of some of the Temple's wealthy young women, Mary begins to suspect something more is afoot. With Holmes' aid, Mary confronts a cunning and vicious killer. Nevertheless, the mystery plot is really secondary to story of Mary's coming of age after the events in King's superb Beekeepers' Apprentice. Mary must come to grips not only with her academic aspirations, but her relationship with Holmes. I can't help but be enthralled with King's smart writing and the unique voice of Mary Russell. But what I like most is that King knows when to make her heroine take charge, without making her an unrealistic action hero.
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.
This is the second book in the series of Mary Russell novels and although I hadn't read the first book, 'The Beekeeper's Apprentice', it didn't really seem to matter.
Mary Russell is about to turn twenty-one and gain her inheritance and her freedom. She seems to follow a fairly unconventional life for a woman in Victorian England; frequently dressing as a young man and striding fearlessly into dangerous situations. She also has an unlikely friendship and working relationship with Sherlock Holmes who makes appearances throughout the book.
Mary is in London when she runs into an old university friend who takes her to 'The New Temple of God'; an organisation run by women who do charitable works for children and deprived women. It is there that she meets the charismatic Margery Childe. However, Mary's involvement becomes an investigating role, when several of the women involved with the temple are murdered.
I enjoyed this novel, it's light and atmospheric but I was hoping the Holmes would feature a bit more than he does. Still worth a read though.
I've always loved the Holmes books, and this series is a great take on how things might have been several decades after his prime. I also like the fact that there is a feminine viewpoint to empathise with. Holmes fanatics may not approve, but I think the author has done a great job of reimagining the great detective with a female sidekick - Holmes is still all-knowing and a great teacher, but Mary really comes of age in this one. And I like the questioning of her feelings towards Holmes - their relationship is important but never detracts from the plot. Looking forward to the next.
Time has moved on from the previous book by two years and Mary Russell is nearly 21 and this time the novel focuses very strongly on Russell. She has left Holmes behind to a certain extent caught up in her own academic life and career. She is counting down the days till she turns 21 and recives her inheritance, and she starts detecting on her own, with Holmes as more of a background character - at least for the first half of the book. Whilst this lack of Holmes at first annoyed me, it was a useful tool to see how much Russell had changed and developed on her own. She takes all the lessons Holmes has shown her and applies them to helping her friend Veronica who is involved with a community church and the poor of London. But recently several members of the church group have died in dubious circumstances. It gives a good portrait of London life in 1920 and the changes after the war. Again this book follows the first novel in being written as a journal of Russell, but once again there was a slightly predicatble ending - not to the case, which kept you intrigued throughout, but in Russells private life.