Book Review: Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King

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.

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12 Responses to Book Review: Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King

  1. Aarti says:

    I am reading the first book in this series now and am enjoying it much more than I thought I would! I also have book #2 and I’m glad that books 3 and 4 also are good 🙂 Yay! So fun to have a series to look forward to.
    .-= Aarti´s last blog ..Review: Burma Chronicles =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Aarti – That’s the book-lover’s dream, isn’t it? to find a series you enjoy that has lots of installments already released. 🙂

  2. I love it when a series gets better and better! I really do want to try King’s writing.
    .-= bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last blog ..BEA/NY Day 1 =-.

  3. Eva says:

    I love the way she weaves other author’s influences in to the stories too. 😀 I swear, each book in the series makes me love it more!
    .-= Eva´s last blog ..TSS: Summer Lovin’ Beach Bum Style =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Eva – I’m actually a little sad, cause I only have two more until I’m caught up and then I have to wait for new releases!

  4. Chelsea says:

    This sounds extremely interesting! I just finished Joe Gores’ prequel to The Maltese Falcon so the setting and inclusion of Dashiell Hammett is appealing. I’ll have to add this series to my list!
    .-= Chelsea´s last blog ..The Historical Tourist visits George Brown House =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Chelsea – I haven’t read anything by Hammett, but enjoyed the way King wove his character into the story.

  5. I went ahead and bought the first book of the series on your say so, Carrie. My hesitation isn’t so much because I’m afraid of how the Sherlock Holmes character is carried over from the original to King’s books, but rather I’m not a big fan of the character in the first place. Maybe Laurie King will change my mind.
    .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Play Time =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Wendy – oh, I hope you like it! I always feel so much pressure when someone buys a book on my say-so. 🙂