Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

dreaming-spies“Laurie R. King’s New York Times bestselling novels of suspense featuring Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, are critically acclaimed and beloved by readers for the author’s adept interplay of history and adventure. Now the intrepid duo is finally trying to take a little time for themselves—only to be swept up in a baffling case that will lead them from the idyllic panoramas of Japan to the depths of Oxford’s most revered institution.

After a lengthy case that had the couple traipsing all over India, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are on their way to California to deal with some family business that Russell has been neglecting for far too long. Along the way, they plan to break up the long voyage with a sojourn in southern Japan. The cruising steamer Thomas Carlyle is leaving Bombay, bound for Kobe. Though they’re not the vacationing types, Russell is looking forward to a change of focus—not to mention a chance to travel to a location Holmes has not visited before. The idea of the pair being on equal footing is enticing to a woman who often must race to catch up with her older, highly skilled husband.

Aboard the ship, intrigue stirs almost immediately. Holmes recognizes the famous clubman the Earl of Darley, whom he suspects of being an occasional blackmailer: not an unlikely career choice for a man richer in social connections than in pounds sterling. And then there’s the lithe, surprisingly fluent young Japanese woman who befriends Russell and quotes haiku. She agrees to tutor the couple in Japanese language and customs, but Russell can’t shake the feeling that Haruki Sato is not who she claims to be.

Once in Japan, Russell’s suspicions are confirmed in a most surprising way. From the glorious city of Tokyo to the cavernous library at Oxford, Russell and Holmes race to solve a mystery involving international extortion, espionage, and the shocking secrets that, if revealed, could spark revolution—and topple an empire.” – Publisher Summary

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are at it again in Dreaming Spies, book #13 in the mystery series by Laurie R. King. The couple’s latest adventure brings to them a visit from an old friend, causing them to revisit an episode in their lives heretofore shrouded in mystery: a three-week visit to Japan in 1924.

The novel begins in March 1925, when Russell and Holmes arrive home in Sussex to find a mysterious carved stone from Japan sitting in their garden. Shortly thereafter, Mary returns to her second home in Oxford, where she finds an old friend, Haruki Sato, waiting for her – with blood streaming down her arm:

“Mary-san. Help me.”

From this point, the story unfolds into a long flashback to 1924 as Mary recalls her experiences on the cruise ship on which she met Haruki and the following period of time that she and Holmes spent in Japan. As always, readers receive somewhat of a crash course in Japanese culture and geography – something we can depend on in these novels and something that brings them alive in our minds. After spending much time focusing on the couple’s time in Japan, the story then jumps back into the present (March 1925) where there is a surprising turn of events in a case thought to have been resolved.

While a series such as this is best enjoyed when read in order, Dreaming Spies does give new readers a brief but thorough introduction to Russell and Holmes. Longtime fans will thrill at the frequent references to cases past, and the footnotes referring to past novels in the series help to map events out for the newbies. The partnership between Russell and Holmes is a delight to observe; particularly during the very few moments when one or the other of this undemonstrative couple wears their heart on their sleeve. King, as always, combines rich historical and cultural detail, life-like characters, and spine-tingling suspense. For old fans or new readers, you cannot go wrong with Dreaming Spies.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King is available now at a bookseller near you!

4 stars

Source: Random House/Bantam Dell {via NetGalley}

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