An Inspired Partnership
1915. Now in late middle-age, Sherlock Holmes has retired to a quiet life of beekeeping, moderate depression and solitary walks on the Sussex downs (see photo top left). Then, one fine April day, an obnoxious fifteen year-old girl, dressed as a boy, hurtles into his life and changes everything. Mary Russell, co-hero with Sherlock Holmes in the 13 books in the Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes Mystery Books series, is Holmes's equal in everything except age and experience. Both are fiercely intelligent, independent, stubborn, arrogant, tall, witty and lonely. Holmes takes Russell on first as an apprentice, teaching her everything he knows about deduction, disguise and danger, then as a partner, and finally as a spouse.
I would rather spend time with Laurie R. King's Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell than with almost any other mystery characters I can think of. That's how much I like these books.
Russell and Holmes are more or less British--Russell has an American father-- and the world they move in is British (whether at home in England or abroad in the further reaches of the former British empire). The time between World Wars I and II is an exciting time for British women, who are moving into the workplace in large numbers, and a troubling time for British men, who are uncomfortable with the social upheaval. It adds up to a fascinating context for the Holmes/ Russell relationship at the heart of the mystery books in this series
Wonderful, witty mysteries. Holmes and Russell are each more brilliant, eccentric and arrogant than the other, which makes for entirely entertaining reading. Terrific evocation of British life--at home and in the farther reaches of the Empire--between World Wars I and II.
I have a distinct preference for the books in the first half or so of the series (#1 through #8) because my favorite aspect of the series is the way Russell and Holmes spar with each other. In the later mysteries, Holmes and Russell work separately to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. It's all very well crafted but not as satisfying to me.