Tag Archives: Laurie R King

More Novels in the Russell Series by Laurie R. King Available in the UK from Allison and Busby

Available from Amazon UK.

Available from Amazon UK.

By ScotKris

Fans of Laurie King have another year to wait until the next instalment of Mary Russell’s journals, so it is with considerable satisfaction that It’s a Crime! can report that those lovely people over at Allison and Busby are releasing the ‘missing four’ Russell titles, previously unavailable for a dozen or more years.

The first of these missing titles, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary, are available now, with The Moor and Justice Hall coming shortly. What’s more, with four more stunning cover designs, the entire series of (currently twelve) novels is available for the first time with a uniform series ‘look’, and full credit to the publisher’s designer for such beautiful covers.

Available from Amazon UK.

Available from Amazon UK.

Where The Beekeeper’s Apprentice laid the groundwork, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary were the early showcases of Miss Russell (with Mr Holmes, naturally), taking her forward to the 1920s and into investigations both baffling and intriguing. Theology and detective work go hand in hand and we also see the growing partnership between Russell and Holmes which forms the cornerstone of this unique series.

A Monstrous Regiment of Women sees an Oxford friend of Russell introducing her to the ‘New Temple of God’, which, if appearances are to be believed, is a sect involved in the suffrage movement of post-War years; however, appearances can be deceptive and when one murder follows another, Russell investigates …

More information at Allison and Busby.

More information at Allison and Busby.

The Moor then takes us to Dartmoor, paying homage to a certain Conan Doyle tale, but Justice Hall, for me, marked a turning point in the series. While following on directly from the events of The Moor, Justice Hall reintroduces characters first met in Palestine in events described in O Jerusalem, and involves Russell in a mystery that dates back to the Great War. Rich descriptions bring to life the Justice Hall of the title which, for me, is one of the most evocative books in this very compelling series and the closing pages remain with me some 12 years since I first read them – a telling sign.

More information at Allison and Busby.

More information at Allison and Busby.

As I have said before, one of King’s many strengths is her ability to create images in her novels that draw you into the era, cleverly combining real events with the fictitious, and in which her characters play their own unique roles. Never do readers feel they are subject to a history lesson; indeed they come away feeling enriched, entertained and truly satisfied.

With the reappearance of these four books comes an opportunity to revisit old friends or to discover them for the first time; the only shame is that a year must pass before Russell returns in Dreaming Spies!

The Bones of Paris – Laurie R King

Bones of ParisParis, France: September 1929.  For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman.  The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modelling and acting.  Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down.  As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray.  But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.  Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket.  Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood.  And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer … sifting through The Bones of Paris.

Laurie King allows Mary Russell a well-earned break from her travels, but still offers us a 1920s European setting with The Bones of Paris, a sequel (of sorts) to her bestselling 2008 novel, Touchstone.  It is 1929 and Harris Stuyvesant, now an ex-FBI agent, has spent a nomadic three years criss-crossing Europe.  A variety of scrapes and circumstances leave him freelancing as a private investigator, employed by the missing Philippa Crosby’s family to track her whereabouts after a long silence in her communications.

We enter a Paris of art and artists, their entourages and their hangers-on.  King intertwines real life characters of the day with her own inventions, a clever technique which she uses to her advantage.  Whilst many names may be familiar, I still found myself wondering if some others were real or created for the purposes of the story, so well were they weaved together.

As a thriller, The Bones of Paris simmers gently as opposed to burning furiously, but this befits the era, and is an understated technique that works well for King.  Excellent at plotting and adept at creating an eclectic cast list, King also offers a deliciously cheeky peek at the seedier side of between-the-wars Paris.  Throw in more than a handful of unexplained disappearances, the reappearance of Sarah Grey, her reclusive brother Bennett, so memorable from Touchstone, and King has another winner on her hands.

With thanks to the publisher, Allison and Busby, for supplying a review copy of this book.

Touchstone – Laurie R King (2013)

Good news for fans of Laurie R King – August saw the first UK paperback release of her 2008 standalone novel, Touchstone, featuring FBI Agent Harris Stuyvesant, in a beautiful new edition from Allison & Busby.

Link to Amazon UK.

Link to Amazon UK.

Once studied by British intelligence for his excruciating sensitivity to the world’s turmoil, Bennett Grey has withdrawn from the world – until an American Bureau of Investigation agent comes to assess Grey’s potential as a weapon in a new kind of warfare.  Agent Harris Stuyvesant needs Grey’s help to enter a realm where the rich and the radical exist side by side – a heady mix of power, celebrity, and sexuality that conceals the free world’s deadliest enemy.  Soon Stuyvesant finds himself dangerously seduced by one woman and – even more dangerously – falling in love with another.  As he sifts through secrets divulged and kept, he uncovers the target of a horrifying conspiracy, and wonders if he can trust anyone, even his touchstone.

Reviewed here back in 2008, this is a snapshot of what I said at the time:

“ …Laurie R King’s latest offering, Touchstone, a standalone novel set shortly after the Great War in locations as diverse as London and Cornwall.  I must confess immediately to a preference for novels which stand by themselves away from a series; as the author says on her own blog, it gives her ‘a chance to flex her literary muscles’, with the opportunity to develop a unique selection of characters and background that support the story in its entirety.  Touchstone is no exception: a rich and diverse offering which challenges the mind and demands a single-sitting reading – no easy task at 500 pages plus.  Indeed, part of the pleasure of this novel is in the savouring, with the lead character of Bennett Grey a superb vehicle from whom to provide just one of the many perspectives in this book.

“Followers of Laurie R King’s blog will know how much time, care and love go into her books.  No corporate publicity machine producing multiple titles each year: indeed, often eighteen months or more may pass between her books, and all are welcomed with open arms by an extremely loyal readership.  With Touchstone as the latest example of how this author keeps in touch with this reader, I would always welcome a more prolific output; however, I am glad Laurie R King doesn’t feel the need to compromise in any way, and continues to produce absolute gems.”

Now, five years later, with this new edition the opportunity arrives to revisit the characters and enjoy King’s fine writing and her enviable ability to weave such fascinating stories.

Link to Amazon UK.

Link to Amazon UK.

Since Touchstone was first released, King has produced four consecutive instalments in her renowned Mary Russell series.  Now too, at the end of September, we have The Bones of Paris, (review coming soon), which sees the return of Harris Stuyvesant.  So if you haven’t yet read Touchstone, catch up now, and immerse yourself in a 1920s world with more intrigue than Poirot could ever have faced.

Garment of Shadows – Laurie R King

Review by ScotKris.

In recent years I have, on occasion, been concerned when a number of writers have started consolidating their output by focusing on one series character at the expense of their other work.  Looking back over 30 years of a wide variety of crime writing in particular, no matter how much I enjoyed Ruth Rendell’s work for example, I preferred the variation of her standalone novels to the Wexfords.  I would not have sought three or four Wexfords in succession.

Laurie R King has, over almost 20 years, produced five police procedurals in the much missed Kate Martinelli series; five varied and intriguing standalone novels, and now, with Garment of Shadows, 12 novels in the Mary Russell series – the series which also features the post-retirement Sherlock Holmes.  Recently, King has concentrated on the Russell-Holmes series and Garment of Shadows is the fourth successive novel in four years.  I admit I felt a slight trepidation as to whether my attention would hold.  I had no qualms that I would enjoy the quality of the writing, more that the story would show signs of the series needing a break.  But I needn’t have worried…

After the humorous side-step of 2011’s Pirate King, King returns to a more serious subject matter, taking Russell and Holmes deep into a troubled Morocco and the war between Spain and France over control of the precarious North African country.  As with earlier Russell and Holmes novels, King appears to effortlessly interweave her characters with historical events, and a sign of her skill is to have the reader forgetting that this is fiction mingling with real events.  Decades have passed since the Rif Revolt, but King brings to life the anguish of a country fighting for its independence almost 100 years ago, without ever making this a history lesson.

The story opens with Mary Russell wakening in a strange bed in a strange room, with no memory of who she is or how she arrived in these circumstances.  There is blood on her hands; there are soldiers on her trail; and she has no awareness of Holmes.

Out in the hive-like streets, she discovers herself strangely adept in the skills of the underworld, escaping through alleys and rooftops, picking pockets and locks … Overhead, warplanes pass ominously north …

A fascinating trail ensues as Russell uses her wits in her attempts to find herself, as Holmes attempts to track her down.  This is King at her best, showcasing her characters in full swing as individuals before reuniting them and taking the story deep into its main theme.  Utterly believable, wildly improbable, totally plausible, Garment of Shadows is a more than worthy addition to this now long-running series, and comes highly recommended.

Garment of Shadows is now available on Amazon. With thanks to the publisher, Allison and Busby for the review copy.

O Jerusalem – Laurie R King

By ScotKris

After a gap of over ten years, the good news for fans of Mary Russell is the reappearance of O Jerusalem, the ‘missing’ Russell story that takes place towards the end of 1918, and referred to briefly during the events transcribed in the first Russell novel, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.  O Jerusalem stands alone, and tells the tale Sherlock Holmes’s flight from England to Palestine along with his apprentice: the nineteen-year-old Mary Russell.  They have been given a mission by Mycroft Holmes to solve a series of murders that may or may not be related to growing tensions in the region, a series of murders that has bewildered the local authorities.  The mission takes them deep into the Palestinian country, through bazaars and squalor to precariously placed monasteries.  Danger is ever-present and enemies have to be faced, with Jerusalem the setting for their meeting with their powerful and dangerous adversary.  As events come to a climax in that ancient city, the young Russell is tested on many levels, and proves herself to be a match for their enemy… this time.

O Jerusalem tells a riveting story, but also paints a picture of an early 20th century Palestine rich with character and colour, a combination handled so well by Laurie R King and a technique developed so successfully over later novels in this series.  The most recent, Pirate King, is now also available in paperback, with the 12th instalment, Garment of Shadows, due in the UK in October.  All of these are published by Allison & Busby, who are to be given kudos for the wonderful series ‘look’, with some stunning cover art.

O Jerusalem was reissued June 25, 2012 in the UK.

Pirate King – Laurie R King

The latest adventure for the intrepid Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes takes readers into the frenetic world of silent films, where the pirates are real and the shooting isn’t all done with cameras.  In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate the criminal activities that surround Fflytte’s popular movie studio.  So Russell is travelling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King.  But as movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout. Continue reading