Sunday, August 18, 2019

Book Review: A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King

A Letter of Mary
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell (Book 3)
Publication: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (August 24, 2010)

Description: The third book in the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series.

It is 1923. Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, are enjoying the summer together on their Sussex estate when they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Ruskin, an archeologist just returned from Palestine. She leaves in their protection an ancient manuscript which seems to hint at the possibility that Mary Magdalene was an apostle--an artifact certain to stir up a storm of biblical proportions in the Christian establishment. When Ruskin is suddenly killed in a tragic accident, Russell and Holmes find themselves on the trail of a fiendishly clever murderer. A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King is brimming with political intrigue, theological arcana, and brilliant Holmesian deductions.

My Thoughts: This mystery begins with a visit from an old friend. Miss Dorothy Ruskin is an amateur archaeologist that Mary and Sherlock met when they were in Palestine. Miss Ruskin has an interesting gift for Mary. She has brought her a papyrus that is purported to me written by Mary Magdalene which shows that she was one of Jesus's apostles. This would be epic if it were true. The changes to the Christian churches would be immense. Miss Ruskin had shown it to two experts who declared it false but neither Miss Ruskin or Mary are willing to dismiss it. The papyrus is in an old Italian inlaid box which presents a mystery of its own.

A couple of days later, Sherlock reads a notice in a London paper asking if anyone knows the identity of a woman dead in a hit-and-run. It is Miss Ruskin which involves Mary and Sherlock in trying to find out if it was an accident or murder. And, if it was murder, finding out who murdered Mary's friend.

The suspects range from her family to the potential supporters of her next archaeological dig and may involve politics in Palestine. Mary and Sherlock call in Mycroft and the latest Inspector Lestrade to help them and each goes undercover to uncover the clues.

I enjoyed the setting. Many of the characters were interesting people including Colonel Dennis Edwards who is one of the group who were planning to support Miss Ruskin's next dig. Even though he couldn't be more misogynistic, Mary finds him attractive and somehow likable. I liked some of the walk-ons like a brief mention of Tolkien and possibly Lord Peter Wimsey. I also liked seeing how Holmes and Russell's marriage is progressing.

Favorite Quote:
The dead have a claim on us even heavier than that of the living, for they cannot hear our explanations, and we cannot ask their forgiveness.
I bought and read this one sometime before February 2008. I recently purchased the Kindle copy for my reread. You can buy your copy here.

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