Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Dreaming Spies

Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #13)Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another fine addition to the series! Told partly as a flashback, and partly in (the characters') present day, this is an interesting adventure for Sherlock Holmes and his young wife, Mary Russell. And, as usual, King does a superlative job of getting inside the head of Russell, and letting see and experience things as she does. Part of the fun of these books is seeing the thought processes of Russell as she interacts with Sherlock and the other characters. Russell is a character that one can admire and root for.

The flashback portion of the story is in basically two parts. The first is a steamship journey from Bombay (now known as Mumbai) to Japan. Holmes and Russell meet an interesting young Japanese woman, Haruki Sato, who says she is a gymnast. But before they are underway very far, it seems a passenger is missing. And another passenger is known to Holmes as a professional blackmailer. Russell, in an attempt to stave off boredom, organizes a series of salons with the Japanese girl, to learn about Japanese customs and culture. Privately, Holmes and Russell take Japanese language lessons. As they near Japan, they learn that Haruki is no mere gymnast, she is a ninja! And she is on a secret mission - and asks for the assistance of the great Sherlock Holmes. To which, Holmes and Russell readily agree.

The next half of the flashback details the time of Holmes and Russell in Japan. They are tasked by Hiruki to travel from Kyoto to a small village in the mountains, completely unaided. Which, of course, they manage with aplomb - traveling on foot, staying in local inns and eating local food. Once they reach the village, the full nature of the secret mission is revealed, and they restate their willingness to help. They journey to Tokyo, this time traveling on a modern train. Here, they try, but fail, to accomplish the mission. They, sadly, head back to England.

And here the story comes back to the present, where events that took place on the boat and in Japan have repercussions, and Holmes and Russell are once again caught up in the intrigue. Much of this section is set in Oxford, with the Bodelian Library playing a large part. (I simply must make it to Oxford one of these days!)

The entire book is a joy to read - the time on the steamer gives us more insight into how Holmes and Russell operate when faced with a mystery, and we have some delightful scenes with the other characters. But for me, the time in Japan was the most fun. This is partly due to the fact that my husband and I visited many of the same locales as Holmes and Russell, and we also stayed in local inns - sleeping on futons and eating local food. Watching Holmes and Russell navigate the different customs and try not to offend the natives was a lot of fun! Of course, they were stellar, and learned how to interact with the Japanese without causing offense.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Fans of this series will not be disappointed.

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