on June 21, 2005
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Also in this series: Dreaming Spies, The Murder of Mary Russell, Locked Rooms, Riviera Gold, Mary Russell's War: And Other Stories of Suspense
En route to San Francisco to settle her family’s estate, Mary Russell, in the company of husband Sherlock Holmes, falls prey to troubling dreams—and even more troubling behavior. In 1906, when Mary was six, the city was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake. For years Mary has insisted she lived elsewhere at the time. But Holmes knows better.
Soon it is clear that whatever unpleasantness Mary wanted to forget hasn’t forgotten her. A series of mysterious deaths leads Russell and Holmes from the winding streets of Chinatown to the unspoken secrets of a parent’s marriage and the tragic “accident” that Mary alone survived. What Russell discovers is that even a forgotten past never dies . . . and it can kill again.
As much psychological novel as murder mystery, “Locked Rooms” alternates between first-person narrative by Mary Russell and third-person sections telling the parts of the story which Mary could not, at the time, have known. This is important, for Mary in this book is a most unreliable narrator, her memory not so much faulty as suppressed. The death of Mary’s family in 1914 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake are the twin foci of investigation, though Mary seems unaware for much of the novel that there is, indeed, anything to investigate. As a historical mystery, it is engrossing; as a psychological exploration into memory (and into the character of Mary Russell), it’s fascinating.
[Note: This review was first published on Goodreads by The Bookwyrm’s Hoard.]
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is one of my very favorite books and I love this series, but I’m several books behind. I haven’t read this book so I really need to get going with the series again. Maybe I’ll read some of the early books again, too! Thanks for this review and the Bookwyrm’s nudge!
Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard
It’s definitely worth continuing the series. There are a few that aren’t quite as good as the others, which is sort of like saying that there are some Hershey kisses in the Godiva box — they’re still pretty good, they’re just not quite knock-your-socks-off amazing.
Lark this sounds really well done. Locked Room Mysteries are one of my favorites. I love the setting for this as well. Lovely review, and five stars..eep..I need to add this to my list!
Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard
Interestingly, there’s no actual locked-room mystery in this; the locked rooms refer to memories the narrator has locked away in her mind. But it’s really good anyway. I do recommend reading at least a few of the earlier books in the series, especially The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women, so you have some idea of who the main characters are and what’s going on. I think it would be hard to start with this one without any background — not impossible, but hard.