Laurie R. King
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I picked her up on a whim, and have enjoyed her books quite a bit :) Though, I have to admit - sometimes I don't read the books for the mysteries myself, but for the characters - and those do quite nicely.
I think my favorites of hers would be O Jerusalem and Justice Hall, though I do need to reread the two latest Russell books.
I tried to read LRK's first novel -- what the heck is the name of it? The Beekeeper's Apprentice? Yea, that's it. Right?
Anyhow, as much as I love historical mysteries, I had great difficulty getting into this book, so I set it down and didn't pick it up for ages. Second time around it was the same thing -- just no spark. I felt like I was a loser because so many of my friends LOVE LRK's books and rave over them and here I was bored silly by it.
So, for those who love LRK's work -- should I skip this one and try another? If so, what would you recommend?
LRK isn't for everyone. In fact, I think her Kate Martinelli series is awful and never got more than a few chapters into the first book of that series.
As for which one to try? Hmm... Beekeeper's Apprentice is regarded as one of the best... the next best might be A Monstrous Regiment of Women and then, perhaps, O Jerusalem, but I liked all of the books so I'm not sure if that's very helpful :-). Locked Rooms, the newest, is a bit different and I've heard several people on the RUSS-L group on Yahoo dismiss it as unworthy of LRK, but I think it's a very good book.
Well, I won a copy of The Art of Detection and jumped in there - I'm much more fond of Russell than Kate, but that could also be that I was a 15-year old when I started reading :)
The Russel series is really quite chronologically based, but I would say give The Beekeeper's Apprentice a longer shot - it starts of slowly, yes.
If you really hated The Beekeeper's Apprentice but are interested in giving King another try, could I recommend the sixth in the series, Justice Hall? I think it's one of the best things King has ever written - it's got an authentic country-house atmosphere, a touching depiction of the terror of the WWI battlefields, and the method by which the victim is killed is utterly ingenious.
Also, the characters of Holmes and Russell are quite secondary to the mystery itself, which is how things ought to be.
Oh, and one small rant - LRK's moved to another publisher, and the quality of the covers has declined somewhat.
Here's the hardback cover for LOCKED ROOMS - gorgeous, isn't it? Black, steel-blue, conveys darkness and elegance at once:
Now here's the PAPERBACK version due out on 21st August:
That shade of pea soup is one of the ugliest colours I have ever seen in my life. Take it away!!
I am not the biggest Holmes fan in the world, and although to some this is probably crazy talk, but I'd rather watch than read Holmes stories. However, I picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice and was hooked. I sped through it in a day or two and ditto with A Monsterous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary. Then, I got to The Moor. I am having a really hard time with that one. Is it just me? I've even gone so far as to put it down and go on to the next book in the series, O Jerusalem. I told my fiance about these books and his opinion was that they are a part of a "female conspiracy" that has to have everyone married off!
Oh no, the Female Conspiracy is not to have Holmes married off - it's to have the male figure slowly replaced by a younger woman who is better than him in every way ;) Eventually I suspect King will bring out a mystery with Russell operating entirely on her own. If she does, my hypothesis will be proven correct...
If anyone is interested, the RUSS-L group on Yahoo has begun a chapter by chapter discussion of Beekeeper's Apprentice. I believe they intend to go through all the books and maybe one or two of the "tie-ins" (Kipling's Kim and Sayers' Lord Peter), but I'm not certain of that.
I hope that King doesn't kill Holmes off and have a Russell-only novel; I would probably read it, but I know I wouldn't enjoy it as much. I started reading the books because they had Holmes in them. Also, a book without Holmes would be inevitably depressing; Russell trying to go on with life after the death of her husband.
If you don't want to get on the Yahoo group, you can follow the discussions on the Dammit Holmes LiveJournal Group - they'll be posting it there too.
I liked Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, and A Letter of Mary, but I had a really hard time with The Moor and O Jerusalem--in fact I haven't finished either. So, I skipped to Locked Rooms, and I thought that one was great, although I just _knew_ (or thought I did) that Russell was going to find out she was pregnant, and then that didn't happen. Is it a spoiler to say something that absolutely doesn't happen in a book? I don't even know where I got the idea from, but I was convinced that it was a real part of the book that I had heard about somewhere. I was very puzzled towards the end of the book!
Recently read King's Touchstone, set in Britain in 1926, and whilst it was exquisitely written, the denouement was... WHUT.
As in WHUT could have possibly been in the killer's mind - and, if it was all essentially pointless, why did the book act as if some great moral point had been made?
Real disappointment. Hasn't stopped me seeking out her work, but I wish her editor had been forceful enough to challenge her: "So WHY did the bomber... Really? What conceivable purpose could that possibly...?" and so forth.
I really enjoy the Mary Russell series, and really think they keep getting better and better, with Locked Rooms as the best so far.
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