Book review: Pirate King by Laurie King

Pirate King (Mary Russell, #11)Pirate King by Laurie R. King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have really loved this series, whose premise is centered on Sherlock Holmes coming out of retirement and marrying a young woman very much his intellectual equal, named Mary Russell.
Unfortunately, as of late, the series has gotten a bit inconsistent. The eleventh book of the series, “Pirate King” is an excellent example of this inconsistency.
The premise of the book is a whimsical one: Mary Russell masquerades as a director’s assistant of a film about the making of a film of “Pirates of Penzance” (the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta). There’s a question of some drug smuggling and gun running taking place during the filming of previous films, and Mary decides to help out her Scotland Yard friend, Lestrade, and investigate (and also avoid her brother-in-law, Mycroft, who is planning a visit).
The interweaving of the “Pirates of Penzance” plot with the mystery is fanciful and well done. The secondary characters are well-rounded and interesting. But the book is a little…boring. The mystery isn’t particularly compelling or convincing. And there was very little interplay between Holmes and Mary, which is the strength and charm of the series. There were a few unexpected plot twists, but, in the end, the book’s ending was a bit anti-climactic (and, to tell the truth, I stopped caring about who had done it several chapters before the book ended). In fact, the best part of the book was the inclusion of a “prequel” short story called “Beekeeping for Beginners,” which was a charming story of how Mary met Holmes, from Holmes’s perspective. That was fabulous!

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