Sunday, September 3, 2017

Book Review: 'Mary Russell's War' by Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King's "Mary Russell's War and Other Stories of Suspense" is a compilation of nine previously published stories and one that appears in print for the first time. A large portion of this book is poignant and immensely engaging. Especially noteworthy is the long section recounting Mary Russell's musings on World War I, which are greatly enhanced by evocative period photos and illustrations, some in color, and others sepia-toned or black and white. Fourteen-year-old Mary describes how she felt when young men in droves answered the call to fight for their country, only to perish on the battlefields of Europe. King effectively conveys Mary's maturity, intelligence, courage, and compassion. Our heroine is an ardent feminist who is justifiably proud of her independent spirit.

In "The Beekeeper's Apprentice," we revisit the momentous first meeting between fifteen-year-old Russell and fifty-four year old Holmes, a fortuitous encounter that would blossom into friendship, a fruitful collaboration, and eventually, matrimony. The chapters that touch on Mary's clandestine nuptials in 1921 and Mrs. Hudson's handling of a delicate case are also lively and engrossing. The final few entries, however, especially "My Story" and "A Case in Correspondence," do not shine with the brightness of their predecessors. The final piece, set at Christmastime, is readable but lacks the sharpness of the author's best work. On the plus side, King provides juicy tidbits that shed light on Holmes and Russell's past and, ultimately, "Mary Russell's War" has enough entertainment value to please Laurie King's legion of devoted fans.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.