Dreaming Spies

Since 1994, when Laurie R. King introduced Mary Russell in The Beekeeper's Apprentice, readers have enjoyed Russell's unusual partnership with Sherlock Holmes. Brilliant and idiosyncratic, Russell has proved a worthy match for Holmes both personally and professionally, as the couple has tackled cases on three continents. In Dreaming Spies, King delves into an episode in their lives long shrouded in mystery: a three-week sojourn in Japan in 1924.

On board a ship heading home to England from India, Holmes and Russell meet a young Japanese woman. Haruki Sato comes from a family of acrobats, but her skills go far beyond athleticism. Educated in the U.S., she is a quietly lethal combination of ninja and diplomat. Sato asks Holmes and Russell for their help with a small but dangerous task involving blackmail and forgery.

King uses Holmes and Russell's journey to give readers a crash course in Japanese culture, but since every experience provides information vital to the case, it never feels like overkill. Longtime King fans will appreciate frequent references to previous cases, though the book stands on its own as a compelling adventure.

Although series like this are best enjoyed in order, Dreaming Spies will give new readers a brief but thorough introduction to Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. Their unusual partnership is, as always, a delight to observe, and King expertly combines rich historical detail, deftly drawn characters and taut suspense. For Holmes fans, mystery lovers and those interested in either Japan or Oxford, this novel is a multilayered and entirely enjoyable journey. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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