Sunday, September 29, 2019

Book Review: The Game by Laurie R. King

The Game
Author: Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell Series (Book 7)
Publication: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 2, 2004)

Description: Laurie R. King’s bestselling mystery series featuring Mary Russell and her husband and partner, Sherlock Holmes, is beloved by readers and acclaimed by critics the world over. Now the illustrious duo returns for their most dangerous exploit yet, in a rich and atmospheric tale that takes them to India to save the life of one of literature’s most fabled heroes.

It’s the second day of the new year, 1924, and Mary Russell is settling in for a much-needed rest with her husband, Sherlock Holmes. But the fragile peace will be fleeting—for a visit with Holmes’s gravely ill brother, Mycroft, brings news of an intrigue that is sure to halt their respite. Mycroft, who has ties to the highest levels of the government, has just received a strange package. The oilskin-wrapped packet contains the papers of a missing English spy named Kimball O’Hara—indeed, the same Kimball who served as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famed Kim.

An orphaned English boy turned loose in India, Kim long used his cunning to spy for the Crown. But after inexplicably withdrawing from the “Great Game” of border espionage, he’s gone missing and is feared taken hostage—or even killed.

When Russell learns of Holmes’s own secret friendship with Kim some thirty years before, she knows the die is cast: she will accompany her husband to India to search for the missing operative. But even before they arrive, danger will show its face in everything from a suspicious passenger on board their steamer to an “accident” that very nearly claims their lives. Once in India, Russell and Holmes must travel incognito—no small task for the English lady and her lanky companion. But after a twist of fate forces the couple to part ways, Russell learns that in this faraway place it’s often impossible to tell friend from foe—and that some games must be played out until their deadly end.

Showcasing King’s masterful plotting and skill at making history leap from the page, The Game brings alive an India fraught with unrest and poised for change—and an unpredictable mystery with brilliance and character to match.

My Thoughts: A birthday dinner with Mycroft on Mary's twenty-fourth birthday in January, 1924, sends Holmes and Russell to India to search for Kimball O'Hara who hasn't been seen for three years. Tensions are rising in India. The nationalist uprising under Ghandi is gaining momentum and the rivalry between Russia and the British is also fierce. The change from a Tsar to the Bolsheviks didn't really change the desire to gain control of India. Neither did the newly elected Socialist Party change Britain's.

The story begins with the ocean voyage to India where Mary undergoes a crash course in Hindustani and immersion in the Mahabharata to gain an understanding of the culture. She also meets Sunny Goodheart, her mother who is inspired by an Indian Teacher, and her brother who is a budding Communist. Repeated run-ins with the Goodhearts raise suspicions in both Mary and Sherlock. The suspicions reach their peak when the Goodhearts are found to be visitors to the Maharajah of Khanpur. The Maharajah is supposed to be a staunch ally of Britain but there are some questions since his country is near where O'Hara was last seen.

Holmes and Russell begin their investigation by taking on the personas of traveling magicians. They gather a young donkey boy named Bindra along with his donkey and cart and begin to make their way across India. I loved the descriptions of the land and people as seen through Mary's eyes.

Mary becomes herself again when she meets the Goodhearts and has a chance to enter Khanpur as their guest. However, Holmes and Bindra are keeping their personas and will meet her later in Khanpur. Mary gets a chance to get to know the Maharajah and finds him to be a volatile personality with a secret political agenda. He seems fascinated by Mary especially after she joined him on a hunt for feral hogs and did well. When she wants to leave, he tries to keep her there. Fortunately, she managed to resume her identity as a traveling magician and slip away from him for a while leaving him in a rage.

She and Sherlock are traveling to get out of Khanpur when the Maharajah catches up to them. He captures Sherlock but Mary is able to make her escape out of Khanpur and to a trusted British agent. Then the two of them need to find a way back in to confirm suspicions about the Maharajah's goals and, more importantly to Mary, to rescue Holmes.

This story was filled with adventure and danger and political intrigue. I loved the mystery and Mary's world. I enjoyed the ties to Rudyard Kipling's KIM and the look at India through Mary's eyes.

Favorite Quote:
"This doesn't have anything to do with KIM, does it? The Kipling book?"

"You've read it?" Mycroft asked.

"Of course I've read it."

"Good, that saves some explaining. I believe this to be his amulet case."

"He's real then? Kipling's boy?"

"As real as I am," said Sherlock Holmes.
I bought and read this one before I began blogging. I am rereading it now. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. 1924 India was not an easy place to be. The setting alone was complicated and the story sounds fascinating.
    Thanks for the review.


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