Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Book 13)
Publication: Bantam (February 17, 2015)
Description: 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.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this episode in the adventures of Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes. The Preamble has them back home and contemplating a very Japanese rock that has been placed in their garden. It is 1925.
Then we go back to 1924 and discover how the rock ends up in their garden. The story begins with Russell and Holmes boarding a ship in Bombay that will take them to Japan. Also boarding are a man Holmes recognizes as a blackmailer and a mysterious young Japanese woman. While Mary is looking forward to some quiet time to read and relax, Holmes determines to find out what Lord Darley, the blackmailer, is up to.
The young Japanese woman is Haruki Sato who has spent a year in the United States at college and is returning home. At Mary's urging, she agrees to teach both Mary and Holmes some Japanese and also agrees to give some lectures about Japanese culture on the ship. Miss Sato looks young, innocent and naive but has hidden depths.
Holmes and Russell manage to while away the sea voyage investigating Lord Darley, his new wife, and his son and learning about Japanese culture. When they disembark in Kobe, Miss Sato is there to act as tour guide and instructor. She disappears but sets them a puzzle to solve.
This leads to them assuming the roles of Buddhist pilgrims and traveling through Japan to rendezvous with her at a specific time and place. I liked seeing Japan through their eyes as they traveled. At the rendezvous, Sherlock and Mary learn what it is that Miss Sato has been preparing them for. She is a ninja in service to the Emperor, as her family has been for a couple hundred years, and Crown Prince Hirohito has a problem that needs to be solved.
Hirohito has mistakenly given away a book to the King of England that contains some information of vital importance to Japan. Darley is blackmailing him to get it back. Holmes, Russell, and Miss Sato and her family need to find a way to retrieve the book to save Hirohito and Japan from major loss of face.
After a seemingly successful conclusion, Holmes and Russell return home. But, some months later, Miss Sato appears in England because the wrong book was recovered. And the adventures resume...
I love Mary's voice as she tells the story. She is such a strong and engaging character. I enjoyed the information about the Japanese book and the wandering poet. I liked that each chapter began with a haiku. All in all, this was a very enjoyable story. I can't wait for more adventures.
I rested my head back against the deck-chair and closed my eyes. I was well accustomed to my husband's need to manufacture work for himself, but doing so two days into what might be considered a holiday did not bode well for the coming weeks.I got this eARC at NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.