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A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

A Letter of Mary (1996)

by Laurie R. King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mary Russell (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A Letter of Mary opens with Holmes and Mary enjoying a quiet day at home when archeologist Dorothy Ruskin, an old friend, suddenly appears at their door. In England for a short time on business, Dorothy has stopped by primarily to give Mary an ancient manuscript that, if proven real, would cause a serious biblical ruckus. A few days later, Mary and Holmes receive word that Dorothy has died in a hit and run accident. Suspicious of the circumstances surrounding her death, Mary and Holmes set out on an investigation that leads them to believe Dorothy's death was per-meditated murder. Soon the investigation leads to them going separate ways while they work undercover inspecting their two main suspects.

This installment was good, but definitely my least favorite out of the Mary Russell series so far. I find the stories that focus primarily on religion bore me. Since a major portion of this one's plot revolved around an item with possible biblical roots, I ended up extremely bored at times. It also doesn't help that Mary tends to nerd-out on religious theory.

Also, I wasn't into the undercover bit of this plot. Mary's work while incognito just seemed really... useless. I didn't understand her fear of becoming too much like the person she was pretending to be. Mostly because the woman Mary was impersonating was so opposite to who she actually is, that I didn't believe she would have a real fear of keeping herself separate. In addition, I couldn't comprehend her attraction to the man she was investigating. It's made clear that the person she was pretending to be would be attracted to him, but seriously? The guy was a misogynist douche and Mary noted being put-off by a lot of what he said and did, so I just didn't get her turmoil. However, the resolution of Mary coming to terms with what she felt while undercover was nicely done.

The other issue I had with this book came from feeling a little cheated at how much of the main mystery happened off page. I understand what King was trying to do by having it play out this way, but I didn't derive the same thrill from the "who did it" revelation at the end.

From this review, it sounds like I didn't like A Letter of Mary at all, but I did enjoy it. There's something comforting about King's writing and her characters are always entertaining. I just didn't click very well with the main plot of this book. All in all, it was a good addition to the series, but not one that I'll be revisiting anytime soon. ( )
  Book_Minx | Jan 24, 2015 |
Audiobook. This one didn't engage me quite as much as the first two, but I'm still enjoying the series and look forward to more!
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
Technically I would give this 2.5 stars, and I ought to be generous and round it up to 3, but I'm too annoyed at the ending. The ending she wrote for this book MAY have solved the crime (with an after-the-fact resolution reminiscent of Hercule Poirot at his worst -- without even the drama of having all the players present), but the story leading up to the ending was only tangentially connected to it! It is BAD when the red herrings comprise nearly the entire story! It makes us distrust the actual ending, because there's no THERE there to support it. /grouse.

Book #1 was good. I still like the 'verse. I still find myself far more interested in feminist Judaism than in the actual solving of these crimes...which is perhaps a clue that I'm reading the wrong book and should go find something catalogued under Thealogy instead. But I want to love a book in this 'verse. I want to be fully satisfied by a fluffy Mary Sue Holmes!fic fan novel. And I know from reading fanfic that it's entirely possible, and these things are fast reads that require little concentration, so I suppose I'll keep reading them.

Also annoying: I found all characters not Mary and not the colonel sadly two-dimensional. Even Holmes, who wasn't remotely bitchy enough. I haven't actually binged on ACD in about 25 years (it was an epic binge, though), so maybe it's time I dive back into that, too. *g*

( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
Another successful installment of the Mary Russell series. Those who already love the series will not be disappointed, and although it is fine as a stand-alone novel, I don't know that I could recommend it as an introduction to the series.

Although this story doesn't take Holmes or Russell very far outside of London in terms of travel, it nonetheless has all the hallmarks of every book thus far in the series: an excellent portrayal of an older Holmes, an intriguing puzzle to be solved, wonderfully vivid characters, and an absorbing narrative.

However, I with this book would have shed a bit more light on Russell's scholarly theological work. Her interest in theology serves as a nice counterpoint to Holmes' disregard of it and deserves to be explored more in depth.

This is especially true given that much of the plot centers around Mary's growing fascination with a Margaret, a woman who draws her deeper into a cult-like group that seems to have mystical powers. ( )
  Shutzie27 | Feb 2, 2014 |
For some reason, I thought the book that revealed Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes to be married would have a bit more fanfare surrounding the event, but it is stated as a matter of fact. (Those of you who think I just fell headlong into the spoiler pit, think again. The marriage is mentioned in the very first line of the synopsis.) Although there is no celebration, readers do see the two trying to become accustomed to being a pair, such as when Holmes says

"I am not criticising, Russell. There is nothing wrong with the way you gather information-- far from it, in fact. It is only that I still find it difficult to accustom myself to being half of a creature with two brains and four eyes. A superior creature to a single detective, no doubt, but it takes some getting used to."

A Letter of Mary is filled with witty repartee, and an entire section is given over to Mary's undercover work as a private secretary to two possible suspects: a wealthy man and his lecherous son. (The scene in which Mary takes care of the son is well worth the price of admission.) In addition to the two suspects, readers see this formidable pair of detectives working with the son of Inspector Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, and one of the Baker Street Irregulars, among others, making this third book in the series have the best cast of secondary characters so far.

With a manuscript of such incendiary potential, I was hoping for some fireworks by book's end, but they didn't really materialize. What does materialize is the continuing "humanization" of Sherlock Holmes. Laurie R. King does a superb job of "appropriating" the world's greatest detective that we all know and love and showing that he is capable, not only of great love and affection, but of a relationship with a very strong and intelligent woman who is every bit his match. Conan Doyle allowed us a glimpse of Holmes' heart in his stories, and in King's series, we see it beating strongly. Is it any wonder that I'm hooked? ( )
  cathyskye | Oct 19, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Laurie R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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... I would terrify you by letters. (The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 10:9)
For my brother Leahcim Drawde Nosdrahcir and his family, from his sister Eiraul Eel.
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The envelope slapped down onto the desk ten inches from my much-abused eyes, instantly obscuring the black lines of Hebrew letters that had begun to quiver an hour before.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553577808, Mass Market Paperback)

Sherlock Holmes and his scholarly companion Mary Russell are caught up in an exciting mystery when an archaeologist leaves them with a treasured find, a papyrus supposedly written by Mary Magdalene. When the archaeoligist winds up dead and someone attempts to make off with the artifact, Holmes and Russel become embroiled in a rollicking story filled with political intrigue and highbrow sleuthing. The level of writing hasn't been higher in this Laurie King series.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:28 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Late in the summer of 1923, Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the illustrious Sherlock Holmes, are ensconced in their home on the Sussex Downs, giving themselves over to their studies: Russell to her theology, and Holmes to his malodorous chemical experiments. Interrupting the idyllic scene, amateur archaeologist Miss Dorothy Ruskin visits with a startling puzzle. Working in the Holy Land, she has unearthed a tattered roll of papyrus with a message from Mary Magdalene. Miss Ruskin wants Russell to safeguard the letter. But when Miss Ruskin is killed in a traffic accident, Russell and Holmes find themselves on the trail of a fiendishly clever murderer. Clearly there was more to Miss Ruskin than met the eye. But why was she murdered? Was it her involvement in the volatile politics of the Holy Land? Was it her championing of women's rights? Or was it the scroll--a deeply troubling letter that could prove to be a Biblical bombshell? In either case, Russell and Holmes soon find that solving her murder may be murder itself.… (more)

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