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Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King

Locked Rooms (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Laurie R. King

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1,546464,750 (4.03)65
Title:Locked Rooms
Authors:Laurie R. King
Info:Bantam (2006), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, historical fiction, mystery, pastiche, Sherlock Holmes, victorian, california

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Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King (2005)



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I surprised myself by giving this 4 stars - might get downgraded later - but I really did enjoy it. The construction of the book is so complicated (time wise as well as two voices) that she nearly lost control at times, but I enjoy very much the way she keeps all the time lines going, and mostly enables the reader to keep up. So now I have read #9 #1 and #8 and I've ordered #7 'The Game' to read next. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jun 17, 2014 |

This is the only mystery series that I like reading out of order. And it actually does make a difference! In that, things happen in previous novels I haven't read yet that pertain to the novel I'm currently reading. For some reason, this doesn't ever bother me. So, I've read books #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. (Thankfully, I'm now only missing two in the middle there.)

I find King's pretense of Sherlock Holmes being real (the fiction of him being real, which is fun thing number one) and him being married (to a much younger woman, which is fun thing number two) completely engaging. In a lesser author's hands, this would be the mightiest failure. I can imagine her agent quailing at hearing about this new series - "wait, you have a successful series about a lesbian detective with a background in theology, and now you want to mess with one of the classics - are you nuts?!"

Well, read it to believe it. She pulls these stories out of what seems like thin air, all the while giving them a realistic enough turn to make the 1910s feel like you're reading about today. Except for the Victorian-style language (and the plot settings), this would be entirely true. This particular story is about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the ensuing fire and general mayhem. Plus it has a personal bent (ie, the mystery plot hinges on one of our main character's past), which makes us care more for the outcome.

Also, Sherlock and Mycroft like each other in this series. As opposed to what I consider the overwrought family dynamics of the British TV series. ( )
  khage | May 27, 2014 |
This is the 8th novel in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series of suspense, and the only one so far that I found creepy. It may have been my state of mind when I was reading it, but I look back on this book with an unsettled feeling. ( )
  dysmonia | Apr 15, 2014 |
3.5 stars.

Better than the last one (with the bizarre look at colonial British India). Bringing Dash Hammett into the 'verse is a little too cute, and yet at the same time I'm very fond of him as a character. It'd be nice to see him join them for a different sort of adventure.

Disability tag: the bad guy has severely disfiguring burn scars gained during looting in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. A minor character has disabilities from a fall that broke many bones. Hammett has TB. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
I greatly enjoyed this, and decided to give this full marks. The series is basically Sherlock Holmes fanfic, with the great detective given a female romantic and professional partner. So many ways it could have gone wrong, but I never have felt King's creation Mary Russell was a Mary Sue--for all her capabilities she has had her vulnerabilities, and I think this installment is among the most personal and introspective of the books, and I loved that aspect. One thing I've enjoyed about the books so far, and this is the eighth of them, is that King keeps changing things up so they're fresh. Even the narrative technique is different in this one, consisting not only of Russell's first person narrative, but third person from other perspectives.

And, as usual--and it's infectious--you can tell King has a blast with these, this one perhaps more than usual. The Moor has the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles for its basis. The Game was set in India under the British Raj and was a homage to Kipling's Kim. This one takes place in 1924 San Francisco. King is a California native and resident and she even slips an ancestor who survived the famous 1906 quake into the narrative as a character. She writes San Francisco with evident affection, and even included Dashiell Hammett, the one time Pinkerton Agent and mystery writer, as a character. There's even a playful reference to Conan Doyle, Holmes' creator... er, I mean biographer. This novel isn't quite the favorite some of the other Russell novels have been--The Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Letter of Mary and Justice Hall--but boy was this a pleasure. It was a treat in particular to get more of Holmes from his own perspective. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Dec 25, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Laurie R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the '06 survivors, especially
Robert John Dickson and Florence Frances Adderley,
"Dick" and "Flossie-"
my grandparents.
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The dreams began when we left Bombay.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553583417, Mass Market Paperback)

Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes are back in Laurie R. King’s highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling mystery series. And this time the first couple of detection pair up to unlock the buried memory of a shocking crime with the power to kill again–lost somewhere in Russell’s own past.

After departing Bombay by ship, Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes are en route to the bustling modern city of San Francisco. There, Mary will settle some legal affairs surrounding the inheritance of her family’s old estate. But the closer they get to port, the more Mary finds herself prey to troubling dreams and irrational behavior–a point not lost on Holmes, much to Russell’s annoyance.

In 1906, when Mary was six, San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake and a raging fire that reduced the city to rubble. For years, Mary has denied any memory of the catastrophe that for days turned the fabled streets into hell on earth. But Holmes suspects that some hidden trauma connected with the “unforgettable” catastrophe may be the real culprit responsible for Mary’s memory lapse. And no sooner do they begin to familiarize themselves with the particulars of the Russell estate than it becomes apparent that whatever unpleasantness Mary has forgotten, it hasn’t forgotten her. Why does her father’s will forbid access to the house except in the presence of immediate family? Why did someone break in, then take nothing of any value? And why is Russell herself targeted for assassination?

The more questions they ask of Mary’s past, the more people from that past turn out to have died violent, unexplained deaths. Now, with the aid of a hard-boiled young detective and crime writer named Hammett, Russell and Holmes find themselves embroiled in a mystery that leads them through the winding streets of Chinatown to the unspoken secrets of a parent’s marriage and the tragic car “accident” that a fourteen-year-old Mary alone survived–an accident that may not have been an accident at all. What Russell is about to discover is that even a forgotten past never dies…and it can kill again.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:50 -0400)

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Returning to her former home of San Francisco in 1924, Mary Russell and her husband, eminent detective Sherlock Holmes, are confronted by dark secrets of the past that continue to haunt Mary's dreams.

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