A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #2)

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #2)

4.1 65
by Laurie R. King, Jenny Sterlin

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A Monstrous Regiment of Women continues Mary Russell's adventures as a worthy student of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and as an ever more skilled sleuth in her own right. Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic…  See more details below


A Monstrous Regiment of Women continues Mary Russell's adventures as a worthy student of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and as an ever more skilled sleuth in her own right. Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic woman named Margery Childe, who leads something called "The New Temple of God." It seems to be a charismatic sect involved in the post-World War I suffrage movement, with a feminist slant on Christianity. Mary is curious about the woman, and intrigued. Is the New Temple a front for something more sinister? When a series of murders claims members of the movement's wealthy young female volunteers and principal contributors, Mary, with Holmes in the background, begins to investigate. Things become more desperate than either of them expected as Mary's search plunges her into the worst danger she has yet faced.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
King's second mystery tale of a young woman who's a protg of Sherlock Holmes. (Dec.)
Library Journal
King "found" this sequel to The Beekeeper's Apprentice (St. Martin's, 1994) in a trunk, presumably the property of narrator Mary Russell. Mary once again tells of her partnership with Sherlock Holmes, a juxtaposition of her youth (age almost 21) and Holmes's advanced middle age (59). Using disguise, guile, and ruse, Mary investigates murders in the inner clique of feminist preacher Margery Childe. Holmes assists, but the focus here is on Mary. The semiconvoluted, finely crafted late-Victorian prose is buttressed with exacting mots justes and surrounded by a nicely re-created 1920s London. A unique look at Holmes; for all collections.
School Library Journal
YA-Mary Russell, the apprentice to Sherlock Holmes first encountered in The Beekeeper's Apprentice (St. Martins, 1994), has established her own regime in and around Oxford just after World War I. Still drawn to Holmes, but seeking her own identity and the furtherance of women's rights, she pursues her studies as well as a case concerning wealthy young women and their spiritual mentor, Margery Childe. While captivated and encouraged by Margery's sermons and good works, Mary can't help wondering why several of these women have recently passed away, leaving much of their estates to Margery's association. She alternately seeks out and rebuffs Holmes. Mary has lost none of the spark and intelligence as well as individualism that so intrigued her mentor in the first book. Readers learn much of the condition of women, especially as the few remaining men return home from the war, and become aware of the class system and unequal social conditions of early 20th-century England, while engaged in a thoroughly entertaining romp through the meaner streets of London. A delight, and a worthy sequel.-Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA

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Recorded Books, LLC
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Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series, #2
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The alarming dip of the cab caused the horse to snort and veer sharply, and a startled, moustachioed face appeared behind the cracked glass of the side window, scowling at me. Holmes redirected his tongue's wrath from the prostitute to the horse and, in the best tradition of London cabbies, cursed the animal soundly, imaginatively, and without a single manifest obscenity. He also more usefully snapped the horse's head back with one clean jerk on the reins, returning its attention to the job at hand, while continuing to pull me up and shooting a parting volley of affectionate and remarkably familiar remarks at the fading Annalisa. Holmes did so like to immerse himself fully in his roles, I reflected as I wedged myself into the one-person seat already occupied by the man and his garments.

"Good evening, Holmes," I greeted him politely.

"Good morning, Russell," he corrected me, and shook the horse back into a trot.

"Are you on a job, Holmes?" I had known as soon as his arm reached down for me that if case it were, it did not involve the current passengers, or he should merely have waved me off.

"My dear Russell, those Americanisms of yours," he tut-tutted. "How they do grate on the ear. 'On a job.' No, I am not occupied with a case, Russell, merely working at the maintenance of old skills."

"And are you having fun?"

"'Having fun'?" He pronounced the words with fastidious distaste and looked at me askance.

"Very well; Are you enjoying yourself?"

He raised one eyebrow at my clothes before turning back to the reins.

"I might ask the same of you, Russell."

"Yes," I replied. "As a matter of fact, I am enjoying myself, Holmes,very much, thank you." And I sat back as best I could to do so.

Traffic even in the middle of London tends to die down considerably by the close of what Christians mistakenly call the Sabbath, and the streets were about as quiet now as they ever were. It was very pleasant being jolted about in a swaying seat eight feet above the insalubrious cobblestones, next to my one true friend, through the ill lit streets that echoed the horse's hoofs and the grind of the wheels, on a night cold enough to kill the smells and keep the fog at bay, but not cold enough to damage exposed flesh and fingertips. I glanced down at my companion's begrimed fingers where they were poised, testing the heavy leather for signs of misbehaviour from the still-fractious beast with the same sensitivity they exhibited in all their activities, from delicate chemical experiments to the tactile exploration of a clue. I was struck by a thought.

"Holmes, do you find that the cold on a clear night exacerbates your rheumatism as much as the cold of a foggy night?"

He fixed me with a dubious eye, then turned back to the job, lips no doubt pursed beneath the scarfs. It was, I realised belatedly, an unconventional opening for a conversation, but surely Holmes, of all people, could not object to the eccentric.

"Russell," he said finally, "it is very good of you to have come up from Sussex and stood on cold street corners for half the night striking up inappropriate friendships and flirting with pneumonia in order to enquire after my health, but perhaps having found me, you might proceed with your intended purpose."

"I had no purpose," I protested, stung. "I finished my paper more quickly than I'd thought, felt like spending the rest of the day with you rather than listening to my relations shrieking and moaning downstairs, and, when I found you missing, decided on a whim to follow you here and see if I might track you down. It was merely a whim," I repeated firmly. Perhaps too firmly. I hastened to change the subject. "What are you doing here, anyway?"

"Driving a cab," he said in a voice that told me that he was neither distracted nor deceived. "Go on, Russell, you may as well ask your question; you've spent seven hours in getting here. Or perhaps I ought to say, six years?"

"What on earth are you talking about?" I was very cross at the threat of having my nice evening spoilt by his sardonic, all-knowing air, though God knows, I should have been used to it by then. "I am having a holiday from the holidays. I am relaxing, following the enforced merriment of the last week. An amusing diversion, Holmes, nothing else. At least it was, until your suspicious mind let fly with its sneering intimations of omniscience. Really, Holmes, you can be very irritating at times. "

He seemed not in the least put out by my ruffled feathers, and he arched his eyebrow and glanced sideways at me to let me know it. I put up my chin and looked in the other direction.

"So you did not 'track me down,' as you put it, for any express purpose, other than as an exercise in tracking?"

"And for the pleasurable exercise of freedom, yes."

"You are lying, Russell."

"Holmes, this is intolerable. If you wish to be rid of me, all you need do is slow down and let me jump off. You needn't be offensive to me. I'll go."

"Russell, Russell," he chided, and shook his head.

"Damn it, Holmes, what can you imagine was so urgent that I should come all the way here in order to confront you with it immediately? Which, you may have noticed, I have not done?"

"A question you finally nerved yourself up to ask, and the momentum carried you along," he answered coolly.

"And what question might that be?" I did leave myself right open for it, but once launched in a path, it is difficult to change direction.

"I expect you came to ask me to marry you."

I nearly fell off the back of the cab.

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A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell Series #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 65 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are a Sherlock Holmes purist, I'd stay clear of this one. While it is well-written enough, its focus was clearly not on the science of deduction or the mystery itself (Which wasn't all that difficult for the reader to solve). Didn't Holmes often complain to Watson about deviation away from the science of the crime for the sake of sensationlism? Anyway, this yellow back novel is entertaining for the less strict fans who may not notice the out of character qualities in Holmes, and delightful for fans who've always had a crush on him. But for the most part, purists (Like myself) should just read Beekeeper's Apprentice and be done with it!
Cher58 More than 1 year ago
This second in the Mary Russell series gives the reader even more insight into the WWI era of Britain, in this case in particular the attitudes pertaining to and about women of the time. I found the mystery wrapped around the female "preacher" to be a great contrast to the murders that were happening around her. Laurie King's sense of timing enhances the relationship between the characters of Russell and Holmes. Anticipating the next repartee between these two is half the fun. I was reluctant at first to place Sherlock Holmes anywhere else but between the pages of Conan Doyle. Since reading three other books in the series I have found the partnership between Holmes and Russell to be an enhancement of Conan Doyles' masterpieces.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved The Beekeepers Apprentice and when I finished it I immediately bought this book. I did not like this book. It was tedious, however I enjoyed learning more about Mary. I will buy the next book in the series and hope for better.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
This is a 'middle' book. What I mean by that is that it seems to be mostly about setting up further character and plot developments rather than completely being a story unto itself. We get to learn much more about Mary Russell, her coming of majority, her inheritance, and learning to deal with aspects of both. Interwoven in this is a mystery, Russell is met by an old Oxford chum on London's streets and asked for help with an ill fiance. She follows along to a worship service at 'the Temple' which preaches in conflict to standard mores of the times. Women are more than subservient and obedient to their male counterparts, intelligent and vital and worth just as much on their own. Into this arena falls the mystery. I won't give any more away because it IS worth the read to find out what goes on. Sherlock Holmes is a bit of a supporting character, sometimes only appearing in Russell's mental ponderings. Clearly it is she who is the 'star' of the tale. And the final surprise? After almost two books tip toeing around about the it is finally solved in an seemingly offhanded manner. "oh yes, and by the way...". Maybe I exaggerate a little, but that's how it felt. All that aside I DID enjoy the book and look forward to reading the next in the series "Letter of Mary". I think this was just a 'middle book' after all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Russell was teasing Mrs. Hudson about wearing her apron to bed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was severely disappointed by this second outing in the "Beekeeper's Apprentice" series. There's much less of Holmes and much more of Mary Russell, who comes across very much as a "Mary Sue", a stand-in for the author's wish fulfillment fantasies, jammed into a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. While the first novel had a very Conan-Doyle type mystery to sustain its heroine's failings, this second novel really doesn't have much of a mystery at all, and the denouement is painfully obvious from about halfway through the book. As every "Mary Sue" must be, our Mary Russell is adored by all, and superhuman in intelligence, endurance, and in overcoming obstacles that lay low the laity. The other characters seem to be stock characters by comparison; her flighty but good-hearted friend Veronica, Veronica's battle-weary addict of a boyfriend, and the supposed antagonist of the piece, a feminist cult leader. There's some beautifully efficient writing in this book, but all too often in service of stock scenes that seem like bad Merchant Ivory movie footage that was wisely left on the cutting room floor. This period of time in world history was a fascinating breathing space between WW1 and WW2. In the midst of it, Fitzgerald gave us "The Great Gatsby". Looking back through the eyes of her "Mary Sue", King gives us a boring and pedantic look at Biblical scholarship, and avoids Women's Suffrage, the disruption to British life caused by the loss of millions of young men, and the beginning of the end of the British Empire itself. Instead, we focus on a female biblical scholar at Cambridge who magically and wholly unrealistically never encounters any chauvinism or boorishness at study. In reality, she probably would have been mooned at her dissertation. Conan Doyle succeeded by making Doctor Watson our stand-in, a man of intelligence, but not one who upstaged Holmes. Here Holmes is little more than romantic fodder for our "Mary Sue". Blah!
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It did have an intriging plot most of the time. It drifted some of the times.
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I found it fast moving and enough of a mystery that I kept reading it. I wanted more. There was history. I learned about Women's rights in England. Their fight for independence and rights was awesome. Young women will enjoy as well as all ages. It would make a great book club book. The discussions would be interesting and varied.
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