The seventh Mary Russell adventure (after 2002's Justice Hall) may well be the best King has yet devised for her strong-willed heroine. It's 1924, and Kimball O'Hara, the "Kim" of the famous Rudyard Kipling novel, has disappeared. Fearing some kind of geopolitical crisis in the making, Mycroft Holmes sends his brother and Mary to India to uncover what happened. En route, they encounter the insufferable Tom Goodheart-a wealthy young American who has embraced Communism-traveling with his mother and sister to visit his maharaja friend, Jumalpandra ("Jimmy"), an impossibly rich and charming ruler of the (fictional) Indian state of Khanpur. With some local intelligence supplied by Geoffrey Nesbit, an Englishman of the old school, and accompanied by Bindra, a resourceful orphan, the couple travel incognito as native magicians (Mary, it goes without saying, learns Hindi on the voyage out). Ultimately, their journey intersects with the paths of the Goodhearts and the mysterious Jimmy. At times, travelogue and cultural history trump plot, but the sights, smells and ideas of India make interesting, evocative reading (Mary's foray into the dangerous sport of pig-sticking is particularly fascinating). If for some Mary Russell is too perfect a character to be as enduringly compelling as Holmes, all readers will appreciate the grace and intelligence of King's writing in this exotic masala of a book. (Mar. 2) FYI: King's latest stand-alone mystery is Keeping Watch (Forecasts, Feb. 3, 2003). Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In their eighth delightful adventure (after Keeping Watch), Mycroft Holmes sends his brother, Sherlock, and Sherlock's wife, Mary Russell, to India to investigate the disappearance of master spy Kimball O'Hara, the legendary "Kim" made famous by Rudyard Kipling. Holmes had actually met Kim many years earlier, during his own disappearance after Reichenbach Falls. Did Kim vanish of his own accord, or was he killed or captured by an enemy? Naturally, Holmes and Russell decide to assume various disguises in the course of their journey, including that of a stage magician and his grubby assistant. Along the way, they meet a wealthy and unstable maharajah, an innocent American girl, and a hard-working stable boy. Showing an impressive attention to detail, King's intense descriptions will make readers feel as if they, too, are on a vital mission in India. Riveting from start to finish, this novel is essential for most public libraries and academic libraries that collect popular fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/03.]-Laurel Bliss, Princeton Univ. Lib., NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Once apprentice, now investigator, Mary Russell travels to India in 1925 with her former mentor, now husband, Sherlock Holmes. In this seventh adventure, the duo is searching for Kimball O'Hara, the Kim of Rudyard Kipling's eponymous novel. On a mission from Sherlock's brother Mycroft, long involved in British espionage, they are tasked with finding Kim or evidence of his status as victim or traitor. Sailing to India on a luxury liner, they meet an American family with a debutante daughter, a social-climbing mother, and a left-leaning son, who of course reappear at a strategic moment. Upon their arrival, Mary and Sherlock disguise themselves as native traveling magicians and seek out an anti-English and very sadistic maharaja, "Jimmy." With her usual thorough research, King imbues the mystery with lots of historical detail and a real sense of time and place. This is one of the best in the series and can easily be read on its own, though readers will then want to go back and see how the strange, but surprisingly plausible, meeting and union between a young Mary and a considerably older Holmes actually occurs. Likewise, a previous reading of Kim is unnecessary, but teens will likely be intrigued enough to go on to read that as well. A sure bet for mystery lovers and historical fiction fans.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Mary Russell and her hubby the beekeeper slog through India in the thinly plotted seventh of this Sherlockian series (Justice Hall, 2002, etc.). Though legally espoused to the great detective, Mary still insists on answering to Miss Russell. Considering how diminished a figure her husband's become in these pastiches, is that a foreshadowing? Will the day arrive when the once iconic Holmes tamely answers to Mr. Russell? Squirmy thought, and yet clearly this, even more than any of its forerunners, is Mary's book, with Holmes turning up now and again like an ex-star athlete at an old-timer's event. New Year's Day 1924 finds Russell and Holmes comfy in their "snug stone house on the Sussex Downs" (oh beekeeper, where is thy stinger?)-an idyll, however, about to end abruptly. Mycroft, Holmes's older, allegedly smarter, brother, whose work in behalf of the Empire is ceaseless if largely unchronicled, has a mission in mind. The pair is to rescue Kim-yes, Kimball O'Hara, the hero of Kipling's children's story, now a valued agent of British intelligence, who's suddenly gone missing. Accepting as always Mycroft's mission, Russell and Holmes march off to find the purloined Kim. But what a draggy march it is, hobbled by space-filling digressions and inelegant backstory, until topped off at the end by some non-ratiocinative razzle-dazzle. Where are you when we need you, Dr. Watson? The game may be afoot, but the pace is mostly funereal. Agency: Linda Allen Literary Agency
"May well be the best King has devised yet…. The sights, smells and ideas of India make interesting, evocative reading."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A rousing adventure story made credible by the sheer force of its characters' personalities and the sharply realized details of their surroundings. Good historical fiction is as close as we'll ever get to time travel, and historical fiction doesn't get any better than this."—The Denver Post
"A wondrously taut mystery, ticking away like a malevolent clock."—Booklist (starred review)
"Splendid...perhaps the rippingest of all Russell's ripping tales."—Seattle Times