- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
My dictionary defines "pastiche" as "a literary piece made up of selections from various works." "Homage" is sort of the same thing. But "lazy writing" is an even more precise way of putting it. It's too easy, in many cases, to write a novel using famous literary heroes without bringing anything of your own to the process. For instance, there have been many lame Sherlock Holmes pastiches this century. Even writers as gifted as John Dickson Carr couldn't effectively take us back to Conan Doyle's London. In the '60s and '70s, the Holmes pastiche subgenre got especially hot. Some good books were written, especially by Nicholas Meyer. But not until Laurie R. King came along in 1994 with her Mary Russell novels did one see how seriously a pastiche could be handled.
Mary Russell is a young Englishwoman who is a Sherlock wannabe. Brainwise, as the advertising folk would say, she is even superior in certain respects. Or so, at least, it seems to me. (I know not everybody will agree — I guess it's just because she's so fetching, she seems brighter.) Holmes and Mary get along immediately, and she joins him as an apprentice of sorts in his crime solving.
Singular and fresh as the setup is, it could quickly degenerate into sitcom formula. But King doesn't let it. In her new Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes novel, King takes us to Jerusalem circa 1918, where we see that the historical Jerusalem had its own problems, many of which were not unlike those of the Middle East today.
Here, Mycroft Holmes asks brother Sherlock to help him solve a very serious political intrigue. Andit'shere that King's superior skills as a novelist are on full display. She creates a fully detailed portrait of time and place, while never failing to fully exploit the charming relationship of Mary and Sherlock. It's a book with something for everybody. I learned a lot about Middle Eastern history, and I had a great time doing it.
Laurie R. King is a major new voice in mystery fiction. If you have any doubt of that, pick up O Jerusalem. It works on every level.