Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #14) by Laurie R. King

Dreaming Spies (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Series #14).  Laurie R King. Random House Publishing Group.  February 2015. 352 pp. paperback and e-book. ISBN #: 9780345531797.

Holmes and Russell return to their home anticipating a quiet rest, only to have their maid alert them to a huge rock with a chrysanthemum drawn on it lying within their garden. This quickly leads to a long sea journey to Japan which is far from quiet as they wind up in the middle of what they believe to be a suspicious disappearance of a passenger, the appearance of a blackmailer, the Earl of Darley, and an NYU trained economist, Haruki Sato, who begins to give lessons to the passengers on past and present Japanese language and culture.  

So begins a long, beautiful and dangerous trip through Japan in the 1920s which ends with a phenomenal request from no less than the Prince of Japan, Emperor Hirohito’s son.  But before they agree to seek out a single volume of Basho poetry that the Prince inadvertently gave to King George V, Holmes and Russell must be tested by both Haruki and her father Sato, both trained ninjas.  Now a very suspicious offer is being made by the Earl of Darley to sell the precious book back to the Prince for an exorbitant price.  What is the true value of this volume of poems and why is the Prince desperate to get it back before his father, the Emperor, finds out what happened?

The quest takes them back to England with Russell doing a major part of the footwork and Haruki proving to be more physically vulnerable than she had bragged about earlier. Indeed even during the ninja workouts and training Russell and Holmes had endured earlier in the plot, the latter couple proved to be much more adept at throwing Japanese weapons and swordplay than either Haruki or her father Sato had believed possible. 

The suspense in Dreaming Spies… is perfectly balanced with moments of beautiful calm elicited by the sharing of the Japanese tea ceremony, the serenity of the Japanese landscape, and the partaking of delicate but tasty Japanese dishes they learn to actually love and prefer over heavy Western meals.  The criminal bribers are very clever and appear to have bested the sleuthing couple but once again the Earl and others underestimate the keen minds and skills of their pursuers.

Dreaming Spies, the 14th novel in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, is superb detective/spy/adventure/thriller fiction!  A great read that all lovers of the Holmes and Russell adventures will relish anew!  Highly recommended reading!

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