Title: A Monstrous Regiment of Women
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: I sat back in my chair, jabbed the cap onto my pen, threw it into the drawer, and abandoned myself to the flood of satisfaction, relief, and anticipation that was let loose by that simple action.
A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King is the second of the Mary Russell mystery series. Mary met Sherlock Holmes as an orphaned teenager, living under the care of her aunt until she reaches the age of her majority and comes into her inheritance at 21. This book picks up a while after the events in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which was the first book documenting Mary’s partnership with Holmes.
Mary is busy working on her final presentation for her degree at Oxford, where she studies theology. She is enjoying the holidays and anticipating her birthday on January 2nd, when she will finally be 21 and able to rid herself of her money-grubbing aunt’s guardianship. While in London, she meets her former schoolmate, Veronica Beaconsfield, and gets swept up in a mystery.
Veronica is part of Margery Childe’s inner circle; Childe is a women minister who is lobbying for women’s rights, health care, and equality under the law. While Mary sees the good that Childe’s various ministries are doing in the lives of women – particularly the poor – she is unsettled by the power Childe seems to hold over her followers. When Veronica is attacked, Mary is caught up in a web of money, power, drugs, and murder. And on top of solving the case, Mary has to wrestle with her feelings for Holmes, and discover the place he will hold in her life.
King’s mysteries are truly amazing, unlike any other mysteries I’ve read. King managed to weave together the theology of women, age in relationships, drug addiction, and women’s rights into a story that had me hooked from page one. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.
(I read this book in 2008; this review is a repost from then.)