19 April 2013

Readin' Ritin' and pRocrastinatin'

Sorry to have been away.

I have been reading. I just haven't been writing about what I've been reading.

I blame it on the Nook.

I got a Nook for Christmas. And it came loaded with a bunch of stuff to read. But reading from the screen of little computer-like tablet threw me. Reading was very different. And when I finished, I didn't have a bound pile of pages between covers to hold and look at and remind me that I really did want to keep up the practice of writing. I've been doing this for 25 or more years.

Well, I finished a real book this evening. It's sitting here next to my keyboard and writing about it seems easier. More natural.

The book is Garment of Shadows by Laurie R. King. You remember, she's the woman who began writing about Mary Russell, the young woman who became the apprentice and then the wife of an old guy named Sherlock Holmes after he'd sort of retired. (See what I wrote about that first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice if you're curious.)

By my count this is the thirteenth story about Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes. It's a follow up to Pirate King and is set in Morocco. Nancy checked it out for me from the Northfield Library along with a couple e-books for the Nook for my birthday.

Enough preface. Like Pirate King, this was not one of King's best. Garment of Shadows was pretty un-Holmesian. It was more Holmesian than the pirate book because Holmes played a bigger role. And there was some Holmesian sleuthing and logic. But the old guy and his wife were really out of their element in Morocco. They were probably not out of their element more than they were in a couple of the stories set in the Middle East. (Remember, Ken, it's fiction!)

Maybe I'm not remembering well the early Laurie R. King plots or the Doyle stories. Every time I try to think of examples from this book that seem un-Holmesian, I remember examples of situations, plot twists, and conundrums from Doyle stories. Maybe I'm not willing to admit that King really does a good job of writing in the Doyle genre.

This story begins where Pirate King left off. Russell and Holmes abandoned the movie company about they time the film is finished and separately end up in the Moroccan city of Fez. I had to get out a map of Morocco to follow the story. At the beginning of the book, Russell awakens without any memory. She's rescued by a mute little boy, who rescues lots of the good guys before the book ends.

While Russell searches for herself, Holmes is searching for her while visiting a diplomat in Morocco who happens to be a distant cousin.

In the meantime, there is growing tension between Britain, France, and Spain. Holmes' brother Mycroft is messing around in these tense international relationships like Dick Cheney selling a story about WMD in Iraq. Then there are the groups of Moroccan rebels fighting for independence and superiority.

Russell and Holmes are reunited. Russell gradually regains her memory. They facilitate a summit conference between a colonial diplomat and a rebel leader. They get shot at, drugged, imprisoned, and framed. They sneak back into the city of Fez through a "back door" and...

But that would be giving things away.

It's not as good as some of the earlier Russell-Holmes books. Laurie R. King has written some non-Russell-Holmes books, but the Russell-Holmes books have become so popular she's given up writing about Kate Martinelli, the San Francisco detective. And I doubt she'll be able to take time to write other books as good as A Darker Place, Folly, and Keeping Watch. Her publisher probably demands at least one Russell-Holmes book a year.

Too bad. I would really like another book about Detective Matinelli. Or an intriguing story about someone conquering inner demons.

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