Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 3

This is my third post about my project to read the entire Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King, which I used to be keen on, but then lost track of. Previous posts:
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 1
Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 2

I’ve now read the next three installments in the series, books 5, 6 and 7:

O Jerusalem

Although this is the fifth book in the series. It takes place during the first book and tells of Russell’s and Holmes’ sojourn in Palestine. This was just mentioned in passing in the first book and is here a tale told in full.
Russell and Holmes had to leave the country to hide from their opponent. They use the time to spy for Holmes’ brother Mycroft in Palestine. An important peace-keeping event held by General Edmund Allenby in Jerusalem is threatened by terrorists and there is a leak in the British intelligence headquarters. Russell and Holmes enter the country in secret and travel around searching for clues and the traitor. They travel with a pair of brothers, Mahmoud Hazr and Ali Hazr, who work as traveling scribes, as a cover for their roles as British spies who have completely immersed themselves in their alter egos. Ali is very skeptical of Russell, who is disguised as a Bedouin lad, but she proves herself during their adventures.

Although they travel in secret and have only a short meeting with General Allenby and his spymaster, they nevertheless are betrayed, and Holmes is abducted and tortured. After they (Russell and the Hazrs) have rescued Holmes, they must foil the terrorist attack on the peace talks in Jerusalem.

I like the novel a lot. It’s full of adventure and mayhem. Another good look at Russell’s and Holmes’ relationship before they were married and lots of local colour. They interact with many different people, Christian priest and monks, and Arabs. They also mix with the British high society in Jerusalem, it’s all very varied and exciting.

Many chapters are prefaced with quotes from Ibn Khaldun, a 14th century Islamic scholar – very interesting. I’m considering reading some of his work, except that I have so many other books to read.

There’s the usual conceit that the novels were written by Russell and edited by the author (which is the case for all the novels).


Justice Hall

The sixth book in the series starts off where the fourth book left off, in November 1923. Russell and Holmes have just returned home from their adventures in The Moor, when they are suddenly visited by Ali Hazr, one of the Hazr brothers they met during their travels in Palestine in book five (which took place in 1918). It turns out that Mahmoud and Ali are cousins and members of the English aristocracy. Mahmoud, or rather, Lord Maurice Hughenfort has just inherited a duchy. Ali wants Russell and Holmes to persuade Mahmoud to give up his title and lands and return with him to Palestine, where they were happy (England no longer suits them). The problem is that Maurice (nicknamed “Marsh”) feels duty-bound to care for his ancient family holdings, because there doesn’t seem to be any other suitable heir. The last heir, Gabriel Hughenfort, was killed during WW1 under strange circumstances. It is now Russell and Holmes task to find out if there are any heirs that could liberate Marsh.

The family history of the Hughenforts turns out to be quite convoluted, but Russell and Holmes, of course, bring to light a lot of shocking truths. It soon appears obvious that one the family has been systematically trying to get rid of all the heirs so that they can become the next duke. The question is, who? In the end, the killer is foiled and brought to a peculiar kind of justice, and Mahmoud and Ali return to Palestine. It was nice meeting them again although they were quite different in the English setting.

The historical point of interest in this book hinges on the many soldiers that were executed during WW1 for cowardice or for not following useless and deadly orders. They were often executed without any legal support to prevent others from following their lead. It’s a very dark part of British history (and I’m sure this also happened on the German side). The book inspired me to read poetry of WW1 which I’m finding very intense (in places; not all the poems in the anthology I’m reading are great, some are too patriotic for my taste, but I guess that was the mood of the times).


The Game

The seventh book takes Russell and Holmes undercover as spies to India, again to clear up some questions for Mycroft. It seems that one Kimball O’Hara, a spy for the British, has been missing for a few years and other British spies have turned up dead. The fun part is that O’Hara is the character known as “Kim” in Rudyard Kipling’s novel of the same name (which I’ve read sometime during or before my university years, but can’t remember much of). It seems that there is a concern that O’Hara may have turned traitor to the British (if he isn’t dead). Holmes had dealings with him before Russell was even born and doesn’t believe it. So, Russell and Holmes travel to India, disguise themselves as itinerant magicians, and clear up the mystery, which involves a power-hungry maharaja from one of the minor Indian princedoms (a fictive place). Again, a lot of local colour, a lot of adventure and mayhem.

Come to think of it, I guess it kind of beggars belief that Holmes is an expert at Arab culture and languages as well as on Hindi and Indian culture. I guess it’s due to his being a genius, and Russell picks up all the languages and skills extremely quickly because she is also a genius. The series are super enjoyable, but with some things the reader has to suspend their disbelief. Fortunately, I’m quite expert at this skill.  😉

I enjoyed these three installments, as I’ve enjoyed the previous ones. So far, all the books have been rereads. The next two I’ve also read before but then I’ll be entering unknow territory. I’m looking forward to the next books.

I’ve also started a timeline, to keep track of the chronology of the novels. I’ll keep adding to it, as I read the next books.

Keep safe, world.

4 thoughts on “Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes 3

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