Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mary Russell's War

Mary Russell's WarMary Russell's War by Laurie R. King

3.5 stars - the stories range from 2.5-4 stars

This is a collection of short stories that fill in the gaps and add more history to the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series of books by Laurie R. King (which begins with The Beekeeper's Apprentice.) All but one of these stories has been published elsewhere (including for free online) but it’s nice to have them all in one collection.

The title story was previously serialized on the author’s web site, and it follows the lead-up to, and outbreak of, WWI and its impact on a young Mary Russell and her family. It is told as a series of journal entries, often with accompanying illustrations (taken from actual newspapers of the time.) Without giving away too much, suffice it to say that extremely important events happen during this story. As such, it is a critical bit of life history for Mary Russell, and fans of the novels will be gratified to have a deeper understanding of the character.

The story titled “The Marriage of Mary Russell” is another one that fills in a gap left by the novels. At the end of A Monstrous Regiment of Women, we see Holmes propose to Russell, and her acceptance thereof. However, the next novel (A Letter of Mary) opens several years later, with the wedding a fait accompli. This delightful story gives the reader the chance to experience the wedding - which is not your normal wedding, as is to be expected by these two people!

“Beekeeping for Beginners” gives us the story of Holmes and Russell first meeting (as fully told in the first book of the series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice), but told mostly from Holmes’ perspective. It’s quite fun to see what Holmes thought of that initial encounter, and subsequent events.

Most of the other stories only tangentially touch the novels, but all connect in some way and give fans more details of the lives of the two main characters, as well as more about some of the secondary characters - Mrs. Hudson, for example. While not every story is worth a 4-star rating, each one brings a little more depth to the characters and their history. Fans of this series will definitely want this book.

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