Title: Locked Rooms
Author: Laurie R. King
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: Bantam Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: The dreams began when we left Bombay.
Spoiler alert: If you have read through book three in this series, nothing in this review will be a spoiler. If not, consider yourself warned.
Laurie King’s Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries have become on of my favorite series, and this is one of the best installments, in my opinion. I have enjoyed each book, some more than others, but this is the first one I can say I loved as much as book one, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.
Mary and Holmes are fresh off the events in the previous book, The Game. They are headed from India to San Francisco, where Mary is needed to wrap up some business matters concerning the estate of her late parents. It is the first time Mary has been back to California since her parents and younger brother died in a car accident, an accident from which she was the sole survivor. As the ship approaches California, Mary starts to be haunted by three dreams, dreams that repeat themselves and seem to have some significance rooted in her past.
When they arrive in San Francisco, they discover that Mary’s childhood home has been locked up since she left, due to a strange amendment to her father’s will. Even though his will prohibited anyone from entering unless accompanied by a blood relative, there are clues that point to an earlier break-in and papers being destroyed. As Mary’s memories start to come back, she is forced to face the worst time of her life – and it leaves her brilliant mind a bit unhinged. Holmes begins investigating, while keeping a worried eye on his wife.
Most of the Russell/Holmes books are written in first person from Mary’s point of view. This is the first one that has alternated between her experience of events and Holmes’ story. It worked very well, and I loved getting an inside look into his amazing mind. Although Mary and Holmes have married, theirs is not a particularly romantic relationship, and it gives the reader an idea of how deeply Holmes loves his wife.
King likes to introduce other literary characters or references into the Russell books, something I thoroughly appreciate. In The Game, it was Rudyard Kipling’s Kim. In Locked Rooms, Holmes is helped in his investigation by a struggling author named Dashiell Hammett.
While the characters of Holmes and Russell are at the heart of this series, King is also a brilliant wordsmith, giving the reader an intricately woven plot, amazing description of setting, and beautiful phrases and sentences. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.