Riviera Gold, by Laurie R. King

July 10, 2020 Book Reviews 1 ★★★★½

Riviera Gold, by Laurie R. KingRiviera Gold by Laurie R. King
Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #16
Published by Bantam on June 9, 2020
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 320
Format: Kindle or ebook
Source: the publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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four-half-stars
Also in this series: Locked Rooms, Dreaming Spies, The Murder of Mary Russell, Locked Rooms
Also by this author: Locked Rooms, Dreaming Spies, The Murder of Mary Russell, Locked Rooms

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes turn the Riviera upside-down to crack their most captivating case yet in the New York Times bestselling series that Lee Child called “the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”

It’s summertime on the Riviera, where the Jazz Age is busily reinventing the holiday delights of warm days on golden sand and cool nights on terraces and dance floors. Just up the coast lies a more traditional pleasure ground: Monte Carlo, where fortunes are won, lost, stolen, and hidden away. So when Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes happen across the Côte d’Azur in this summer of 1925, they find themselves pulled between the young and the old, hot sun and cool jazz, new affections and enduring loyalties.

Russell falls into easy friendship with an enthralling American couple, Sara and Gerald Murphy, whose golden life on the Riviera has begun to attract famous writers and artists—and some of the scoundrels linked with Monte Carlo’s underworld. The Murphy set will go on to inspire everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Pablo Picasso, but in this summer of 1925, their importance for Russell lies in one of their circle’s recent additions: the Holmeses’ former housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson, who hasn’t been seen since she fled England under a cloud of false murder accusations.

When a beautiful young man is found dead in Mrs. Hudson’s front room, she becomes the prime suspect in yet another murder. Russell is certain of Mrs. Hudson’s innocence; Holmes is not. But the old woman’s colorful past has been a source of tension between them before, and now the dangerous players who control Monte Carlo’s gilded casinos may stop at nothing to keep the pair away from what Mrs. Hudson’s youthful history could bring to light.

The Riviera is a place where treasure can be false, where love can destroy, and where life, as Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes will discover, can be cheap—even when it is made of solid gold.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

Murder in Monaco

The redoubtable Mrs. Hudson reappears in Riviera Gold, alive and well and living in Monaco, where Mary has come in hopes of finding her. But not long after Mary’s arrival, Mrs. Hudson is arrested for the murder of a young man. In their efforts to clear her, Holmes and Mary are drawn into an investigation which ultimately involves a Riviera art colony, smugglers, an infamous arms dealer, and White Russian emigres. Ms. King weaves these disparate elements together with historical figures including Sara and Gerald Murphy, the Jersey Lily, and several famous artists and writers, and ties in a lingering mystery from The Murder of Mary Russell.

I thoroughly enjoyed Riviera Gold. Mary and Holmes both seemed more themselves than they did in Island of the Mad (when, admittedly, they were both shaken by the events and revelations of the previous book.) The overall tone of Riviera Gold is nicely balanced between the warmth and gaiety of the Riviera and the darker hues of danger and suspense. The pacing, too, is excellent: slow and leisurely at the beginning, as befits summertime on the Riviera, but ratcheting up steadily before taking off in a literal race to the finish. The dual mysteries are well-plotted, too, difficult but not impossible to unravel. King provides clues for the reader all along the way, not just through Mary’s first-person narrative, but via occasional third-party conversations between Mrs. Hudson and other people — mostly unnamed, though their identities become clear eventually.

As enjoyable and well-crafted as the novel is, however, I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with the Mary Russell canon. Much of the thread involving Mrs. Hudson will be hard to understand if you haven’t at least read The Murder of Mary Russell. And honestly, the series as a whole is so well-written and so engaging that I can’t imagine jumping in mid-stream. If you’re new to the books, I highly recommend you start at the beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. (See my series review, here.) If you are a long-time fan, you might wish to reread The Murder of Mary Russell first, so the details of Mrs. Hudson’s past are fresh in your mind… but as long as you remember the gist, you should find no difficulty, and much pleasure, in following the events in Riviera Gold.

four-half-stars

About Laurie R. King

photo of Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2020’s Riviera Gold). She has won an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honor at several crime conventions, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology. She was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars in 2010, as “The Red Circle.”

A full list of Ms. King’s awards and honors may be found here..

Mary Russell blogs at maryrussellholmes.com, and tweets as @mary_russell..

Laurie R. King can be found on at the following sites:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Quarantine Edition (2020)
  • POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2020

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