February 2015; 331 pages
After a lengthy case that had the couple traipsing all over India, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are on their way to California to deal with some family business that Russell has been neglecting for far too long. Along the way, they plan to break up the long voyage with a sojourn in southern Japan.
Aboard the ship, intrigue stirs almost immediately. Holmes recognizes the famous clubman the Earl of Darley, whom he suspects of being an occasional blackmailer: not an unlikely career choice for a man richer in social connections than in pounds sterling. And then there’s the lithe, surprisingly fluent young Japanese woman who befriends Russell and quotes haiku. She agrees to tutor the couple in Japanese language and customs, but Russell can’t shake the feeling that Haruki Sato is not who she claims to be.
Once in Japan, Russell’s suspicions are confirmed in a most surprising way. From the glorious city of Tokyo to the cavernous library at Oxford, Russell and Holmes race to solve a mystery involving international extortion, espionage, and the shocking secrets that, if revealed, could spark revolution—and topple an empire.My Thoughts:
This is Number 13 in King's Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series of mystery novels. I've been curious about this series for quite a while, as I've heard such glowing reports, and I've always been a Sherlock Holmes fan. And the idea of Holmes actually getting married late in life is knock-your-socks-off intriguing. But once again, I've managed to jump right into a long, ongoing series without reading any of the earlier books, and I think in this case it was a mistake.
This one was very slow going for me. I just never really connected with the story or with Mary Russell, the primary character and narrator. I was expecting more Sherlock, and was disappointed that he turned out to be such a minor presence in the book. Mary is definitely the "star" and I didn't mind that, but she's just not as interesting as Holmes.
I guess I was also expecting a little more action, or at least more of a mystery to be solved; and while I did appreciate the quality of the writing, I kept getting lost in the long passages of description and scene-setting. As I said -- very slow going. Not sure I'd recommend this one, although I do think I might like to sample one of the earlier books in the series, just to see if it's more to my liking.
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(Full disclosure: I received my copy of Dreaming Spies free of charge from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and no one attempted to influence my opinion.)
● Qualifies for the following reading challenges: Historical Fiction Challenge, What's In A Name Challenge, Women Challenge, Women's Fiction Challenge.