The latest addition to the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series was very satisfying. I can't believe that I read the first, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, nearly 15 years ago. Where does time go and why is it going faster and faster?
I took this brief synopsis from Laurie King's website:
In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband’s storied past—a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting…this time fatally.
For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet. There was even a mystery to solve—the unexplained disappearance of an entire colony of bees from one of Holmes’s beloved hives. But the anticipated sweetness of their homecoming is quickly tempered by a galling memory from her husband’s past.
Mary had met Damian Adler only once before, when the promising surrealist painter had been charged with—and exonerated from—murder. Now the talented and troubled young man was enlisting their help again, this time in a desperate search for his missing wife and child. When it comes to communal behavior, Russell has often observed that there are many kinds of madness. And before this case yields its shattering solution, she’ll come into dangerous contact with a fair number of them.
From suicides at Stonehenge to a bizarre religious cult, from the demimonde of the Café Royal at the heart of Bohemian London to the dark secrets of a young woman’s past on the streets of Shanghai, Russell will find herself on the trail of a killer more dangerous than any she’s ever faced—a killer Sherlock Holmes himself may be protecting for reasons near and dear to his heart.
I felt like the book started out at a nice measured pace, as do all the books in the series. A great deal of the book focuses on Mary with brief contact with Holmes. She is left to solve the mystery of the empty bee colony and then decides she can't dismiss her concerns for Holmes' safety and looks into the mystery of Damian's missing wife & child in her own way. Mycroft is featured more in this book than in the others. I found him to be quite a likable character.
Another blogger mentioned how after the pace of the book increased, she was annoyed by an overly long episode with a plane ride that seemed to disrupt the flow. I can see why she would have felt that way, but I felt like that was intentional. As Mary, and the reader, are racing toward the climax of the mystery before us, that darn plane ride threatens to hinder her life-saving mission and could even cost her own life. (Of course, I didn't question that she would survive.) I could imagine in the movie version we would be chewing our nails at some points of that plane ride.
And the ending - definitely a cliff hanger, begging for the next book to be published TOMORROW! I was satisfied with the ending and even liked it. That's all I can really say about that without giving anything away.
While reading this book I've about talked myself into buying all the books in this series for a reread someday. I don't own any of them at this point because I don't do rereads, but I'm sorely tempted. How can I justify reading 9 books that I've already read when there are so, so many books I haven't read and am dying to? That's my quandary.