Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes # 13)

Dreaming Spies - Laurie R. King

Russell with her Holmes,

New Case comes with great promise.

Wonder what's in store?


I've detailed elsewhere what Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell series means to me. Every time a new book is announced, some of my worst impatience sets in. Finally, it arrives in my hands and I'm teleported back to a time and characters I've come to care greatly about.


At long last we learn of their time spent in Japan, which took place between The Game and Locked Rooms. As with all of King's books in this series, I found myself transported to 1920s Japan as we walked it's roads, traveled in it's packed trains, and experienced new customs. While much of the elements were known to me, her writing once again brought it to life. But she also did what I'd longed for, showed us some of Oxford.


There was a great deal I noticed in this book. The villain is a blackmailer and there's a scene that strongly recalls a moment in the short story Charles Augustus Milverton. There are also so many literary allusions in this book. Bashō, one of Japan's most famous Hokku (Haiku) poets, is constantly mentioned in the text; every chapter even starts with a haiku. England's poet Matthew Arnold - of Oxford's "Dreaming Spires" fame - also appears and Shakespeare's Falstaff and the play Henry V plays a role.


The last couple of books have not clicked with me as earlier ones and I've come close to disappointment a time or two. But this was a breath of fresh air, recalling my earlier feelings about the series and in the was very satisfying.


With one caveat. (And I do suggest not reading this even if you like spoilers as this the big reveal the whole book turns on.)

What is it with Holmes being wrong or being manipulated lately? Here I know it's not mean spirited, just an attempt to show him and Russell are human or maybe that they're burned out at the moment. But I'll admit, when I realized what was happening, it wasn't "here we go again" but one brief moment of rage. I do hope we see Haruki again and that next time she doesn't treat my favorite couple as she did this time.

(show spoiler)


Warm glow and sharp pain,

Completion and ending war;

Book's close bittersweet.