Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Book Report/Locked Rooms
by Laurie R. King
If you've read Laurie R. King's series about Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, you know that Mary's mother, father, and brother were all killed in a car accident when she was younger and that she blames herself. She has always felt that by arguing with her brother, she distracted her father. The car went over a cliff, while Mary was thrown out and became the sole survivor. What a thing to carry in one's heart. This fact has never been confronted until Locked Rooms. In the seven books before this one, we have seen Russell as capable, intelligent, and gifted in many ways. But there is this pain inside her which rarely surfaces.
In Locked Rooms, she and Holmes are heading back to San Francisco to settle some family affairs. On the ship, Russell begins having nightmares: one about objects flying around, another about a "faceless" man, and a third about some locked rooms. She is so upset by them that she is not herself. When they arrive in San Francisco, Holmes has to deal with problems and situations without the cool, brilliant Russell by his side. He must trust in others to help him help Russell. We have a treat in store when he makes contact with the author Dashiell Hammett. After all the previous escapades, I really enjoyed going back into Mary Russell's childhood. Both the character and the reader see the past in a different way than we have before. We meet long-forgotten people and learn about prior events, such as the earthquake of 1906, and get to know this young woman as a more complete individual. Locked Rooms is a brilliant addition to the series. I almost said it is my favorite, but then I realized I can't name a favorite.
I've loved these books since the very first, The Beekeeper's Apprentice and years ago I used to be on the internet Russ L list, on which we discussed everything Holmes and Russell.
I read somewhere that the whole series may be re-released with new covers. Perhaps this would introduce a new generation to Mary Russell. My daughter was in junior high when she began reading the books, and still loves them today. Her favorite is Justice Hall, and she has just read it again for the third or fourth time.
I love the notion of these books; that Laurie King was sent some manuscripts and is passing the stories along. Great, great writing, plots, characters. These are some of the most satisfying books I've ever read.