Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book Report/Locked Rooms

Locked Rooms
by Laurie R. King
mystery, 2005
finished, 12/31/08

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.


  1. I met Laurie King years ago at a book signing. What a delightful person. I've never read the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. My favorite book that I've read of hers so far was Folly. Absolutely loved it.

  2. Thanks Avid reader and Karin. This is a fantastic series. I have learned so much about the period from reading them, and I think this is the best version of Sherlock Holmes, including Arthur Conan Doyle's!

  3. I have never heard of this author before but I love Sherlock Holmes so will definitly give these book a go.

  4. Jennifer, Holmes is quite different in these books. I'll be interested to hear what you think if you begin reading them. This is definitely a series to read in order. Change and growth happen from book to book. Have fun!

  5. First, Happy New Year, dear Nan!

    You know, I've read THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE twice and led a discussion of it in book group. But, I'm not sure why I've never continued the series. I know that you love it. I'm going to put the next one on hold at the library and continue it this year. Thanks for the push!

  6. I can't imagine you won't like them Kay, and the second isn't my personal favorite, but is still important to further the story. This is one of those series where it really is good to read them in order.

  7. I'm so glad to hear you love these books! I read my first earlier this year and recently decided to read the whole series in order during an upcoming month. I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the world of Holmes and Russell non-stop for a while.

    Happy New Year Nan!

  8. Heather, that's a great, great way to read them. Tom is in the middle of Justice Hall right now and can't stop!

  9. Hi Nan, thanks for the great review of Locked Rooms and your praise for the Mary Russell series in general.

    I do publicity for Laurie R. King, and was referred to your blog by Heather J (who I see also commented above -- thanks Heather!) I wanted to see if you'd be interested in participating in an upcoming blog tour as part of a celebration called the Fifteen Weeks of Bees, from the first of February until the middle of May, to mark both the 15th anniversary of Beekeeper's Apprentice and the publication of the new Russell, The Language of Bees.

    If you're interested, please contact me at Bees[at]laurierking[dot]com. I apologize for posting this invitation as a comment, but could not see a way to PM you.

    Many thanks for your time.


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