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The Game (2004)

by Laurie R. King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mary Russell (7), Mary Russell: Chronological Order (January-March 1924)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,060676,602 (4.01)70
Mary Russell and her husband and partner, Sherlock Holmes return for their most dangerous exploit yet in a rich and atmospheric tale that takes them to India to save the life of one of literature's most fabled heroes. But the fragile peace will be fleeting--for a visit with Holmes's gravely ill brother, Mycroft, brings news of an intrigue that is sure to halt their respite. Mycroft, who has ties to the highest levels of the government, has just received a strange package. The oilskin-wrapped packet contains the papers of a missing English spy named Kimball O'Hara--indeed, the same Kimball who served as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's famed Kim. An orphaned English boy turned loose in India, Kim long used his cunning to spy for the Crown. But after inexplicably withdrawing from the "Great Game" of border espionage, he's gone missing and is feared taken hostage--or even killed. When Russell learns of Holmes's own secret friendship with Kim some thirty years before, she knows the die is cast: she will accompany her husband to India to search for the missing operative. But even before they arrive, danger will show its face in everything from a suspicious passenger on board their steamer to an "accident" that very nearly claims their lives. Once in India, Russell and Holmes must travel incognito--no small task for the English lady and her lanky companion. But after a twist of fate forces the couple to part ways, Russell learns that in this faraway place it's often impossible to tell friend from foe--and that some games must be played out until their deadly end.… (more)
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1924. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes gets a New Year’s visit from Mycroft Holmes with a strange package from an English spy called Kimball O’Hara, more known as the Kim Kipling wrote about. He has withdrawn from the “Great Game” of espionage and disappeared. So Russell and Homes travels to India to search for the missing Kim.

I like this book very much, a missing spy, India and Mary Russell that has to disguise herself to save Sherlock Holmes. It's a wonderful entertaining and engrossing book.
( )
  MaraBlaise | Jul 23, 2022 |
I finished this yesterday, but everyone and every thing conspired against me this weekend and I was unable to update/post except in 15 seconds bursts. My apologies to Moonlight Reader for letting down the side a bit.

Talk about conflicted about a read. I both loved and hated almost every page.

As is typical of all the Mary Russell books (so far), Ms. King is not in a hurry to set the scene and the story. Almost the entire first half is setting up the events to come and until Holmes' and Russell's arrival in India the reading is rather drab, although not completely dull. Once we're in India though, the writing is so rich and illustrative and alive it's hard not to feel you're there with them, simultaneously fascinated and wishing to be somewhere...cleaner.

When we arrived (and it was, to me, "we" - as I said, the writing really comes alive off the page) at the maharajah's palace, the extraordinary excesses and luxury hide at first the rot underneath. Truly the rajah is the poster child for "idle hands are the devil's workshop". The level of detail the author includes when describing the rajah's "toy room" must have required an astounding amount of research into both esoteric and prurient bits of history; I can't even talk about the gun-room: it made my skin crawl.

Overall, the writing and the story are outstanding, so why was I conflicted? My personal trigger is anything involving animal cruelty and this was a prevailing thread running through the rajah's psychology. I hated every freaking word and had this not been a buddy read, I probably would have stopped. I would have missed an outstanding read, but I wouldn't have continued.

But I did and I was in for a rousing, adventure filled, fantastic ending with a very satisfying closing chapter. The author packs in so much in so few words, I was almost exhausted myself by the end.

So, an outstanding book I'll likely never, ever read again - but if you don't share my triggers, I can't sing the praises of this book's writing highly enough.

(Note: this is only the second Russell book I've actually read, as opposed to listened to. I suspect I both gain and lose something in listening vs. reading.) ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 22, 2022 |
Very hard to like this when the Maharaja is so unlikeable and the animal cruelty awful. ( )
  Stephen.Lawton | Aug 7, 2021 |
A birthday dinner with Mycroft on Mary's twenty-fourth birthday in January, 1924, sends Holmes and Russell to India to search for Kimball O'Hara who hasn't been seen for three years. Tensions are rising in India. The nationalist uprising under Ghandi is gaining momentum and the rivalry between Russia and the British is also fierce. The change from a Tsar to the Bolsheviks didn't really change the desire to gain control of India. Neither did the newly elected Socialist Party change Britain's.

The story begins with the ocean voyage to India where Mary undergoes a crash course in Hindustani and immersion in the Mahabharata to gain an understanding of the culture. She also meets Sunny Goodheart, her mother who is inspired by an Indian Teacher, and her brother who is a budding Communist. Repeated run-ins with the Goodhearts raise suspicions in both Mary and Sherlock. The suspicions reach their peak when the Goodhearts are found to be visitors to the Maharajah of Khanpur. The Maharajah is supposed to be a staunch ally of Britain but there are some questions since his country is near where O'Hara was last seen.

Holmes and Russell begin their investigation by taking on the personas of traveling magicians. They gather a young donkey boy named Bindra along with his donkey and cart and begin to make their way across India. I loved the descriptions of the land and people as seen through Mary's eyes.

Mary becomes herself again when she meets the Goodhearts and has a chance to enter Khanpur as their guest. However, Holmes and Bindra are keeping their personas and will meet her later in Khanpur. Mary gets a chance to get to know the Maharajah and finds him to be a volatile personality with a secret political agenda. He seems fascinated by Mary especially after she joined him on a hunt for feral hogs and did well. When she wants to leave, he tries to keep her there. Fortunately, she managed to resume her identity as a traveling magician and slip away from him for a while leaving him in a rage.

She and Sherlock are traveling to get out of Khanpur when the Maharajah catches up to them. He captures Sherlock but Mary is able to make her escape out of Khanpur and to a trusted British agent. Then the two of them need to find a way back in to confirm suspicions about the Maharajah's goals and, more importantly to Mary, to rescue Holmes.

This story was filled with adventure and danger and political intrigue. I loved the mystery and Mary's world. I enjoyed the ties to Rudyard Kipling's KIM and the look at India through Mary's eyes. ( )
  kmartin802 | May 14, 2021 |
.... and an extra half a star. A good romp and a comfortable 'Kim' tribute. ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurie R. Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.
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It was a dramatic setting for a human sacrifice, give my murderer credit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Mary Russell and her husband and partner, Sherlock Holmes return for their most dangerous exploit yet in a rich and atmospheric tale that takes them to India to save the life of one of literature's most fabled heroes. But the fragile peace will be fleeting--for a visit with Holmes's gravely ill brother, Mycroft, brings news of an intrigue that is sure to halt their respite. Mycroft, who has ties to the highest levels of the government, has just received a strange package. The oilskin-wrapped packet contains the papers of a missing English spy named Kimball O'Hara--indeed, the same Kimball who served as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling's famed Kim. An orphaned English boy turned loose in India, Kim long used his cunning to spy for the Crown. But after inexplicably withdrawing from the "Great Game" of border espionage, he's gone missing and is feared taken hostage--or even killed. When Russell learns of Holmes's own secret friendship with Kim some thirty years before, she knows the die is cast: she will accompany her husband to India to search for the missing operative. But even before they arrive, danger will show its face in everything from a suspicious passenger on board their steamer to an "accident" that very nearly claims their lives. Once in India, Russell and Holmes must travel incognito--no small task for the English lady and her lanky companion. But after a twist of fate forces the couple to part ways, Russell learns that in this faraway place it's often impossible to tell friend from foe--and that some games must be played out until their deadly end.

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