Friday, September 23, 2011
Bantam Books, 2011
11th Mary Russell book
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine's program in exchange for an honest review.
While I read the first few Mary Russell books, I fell behind as my interests diverged from the mystery genre. Still I enjoyed what I read so I eagerly requested the latest book featuring Mary Russell and her now husband Sherlock Holmes, who is presented as very much non-fictional. I was also excited about the insight into the burgeoning film industry in 1924.
The plot is simple in that Mary is dispatched to become attached to a British film crew with a history of questionable dealings around drugs and such. This is complicated by the director's commitment to "Realism," his interest in pirates, and the fact that they get caught up with some sketchy characters. However the plot is leavened by Mary's keen sense of humor and the meta nature of their film, which is about a film crew making a movie of Gilbert and Sullivan's famous operetta The Pirates of Penzance.
As usual, I loved Mary and Holmes but overall I thought there were too many characters to keep track of. Additionally all sorts of mini mysteries popped up that the initial mystery around the film crew was overshadowed by the possibility of real-life would-be pirates and the various petty dramas that arise from a large crowd of people in such close confinement for such a long time. With all of that going on, there's also the insertion of the real-life Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, a complex figure, with many layers. He was...interesting to say the least.
I appreciated the general light tone even when some darker events take place. It's my understanding that the lightness is a bit of a change from the previous books and I liked it; I'm not a fan of really dark mysteries. I had hoped for more interaction between Mary and Holmes but at least they don't spend the entire book separated.
Overall: Will probably not be a standout in the series but a decent way to spend time.