Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King

I finished this book last night before bed. Couldn't put it down at the end. I purchased this copy myself at Borders, if the price sticker is to be believed.

This is the second installment in King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first one, but I'm not sure if that's because of the subject matter of this one or because the novelty has worn off. Whatever the reason, it took me a while to get into it, possibly because it took a while for the mystery to develop.

In this novel, Mary runs into her old friend Ronnie Beaconsfield and is coerced into attending a service with Ronnie at the New Temple of God, a feminist church led by one Margery Childe. Margery is a mystic of sorts, a magnetic woman whom Mary doesn't wish to be drawn to, but inexplicably is. Margery is well-to-do and Mary begins to wonder where she, and the church, get the money. When several young followers of Margery's Temple come to strange, accidental deaths, Mary decides it is time to investigate.

Not being a particularly religious person, I wasn't very interested in Mary's digressions into her Biblical studies or the long recitations of Margery's sermons. These topics seemed to take up a lot of room that I thought could have better been spent on developing the mystery. Also, there was a strange typo (or perhaps King made the mistake in her original manuscript?) regarding one character's name that really, REALLY bothered me. But *****SPOILER ALERT***** the budding romance between Holmes and Rusell was, I thought, well done, and the passages describing Mary's growing dependence on heroin were also quite illuminating.

Of the two books I've read, the first was the better, in my opinion. But this one was also pretty well done. I'll give it four out of five Whatevers. Recommended for those interested in Biblical scholarship, especially where it intersects with feminism, for those who are interested in the feel that the Roaring Twenties give the setting of a novel (there are flappers and cloches galore in this one), and for those who simply love the Holmes and Russell series.


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