Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King in the thirteenth installment in the Mary Russell series, featuring Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell as they solve mysteries in Holmes’ latter years. I have been a big fan of this series from way back and the earlier novels, Beekeeper’s Apprentice and others, are some of the best in Sherlock Holmes novels I have ever read outside of the Conan Doyle canon. More so, perhaps, because in these novels, Holmes is a supporting player and it is Russell who is the true detective.
Dreaming Spies concerns the missing period of time that other Russell/Holmes have alluded to, when the pair journeyed to Japan. It was during this sea voyage that Holmes spots an English Nobleman that he had long suspected of treason and blackmailed. Russell, knowing that Holmes is difficult when he is bored, agrees that Holmes should follow the Earl of Darley while she tries to relax. During the voyage, Russell befriends a young Japanese girl and decides to learn the most she can about the culture. But the occupants of the voyage are not all who they seem and soon Holmes and Russell are drawn into an espionage and international intrigue whose secrets could topple a government.
Soon the pair of consulting detectives are drawn into the inner workings of the Japanese Government and its Emperor, with ninjas and samurai, and the secrets of centuries past. Holmes and Russell must unravel the hidden secrets and take them back from the blackmailers and place them safely in the hands of the Japanese before both the British and Japanese governments lose trust in one another.
What makes these novels work is King’s ability to keep Holmes as a minor character in the tales while Russell takes the lead. She is his equal in every way except for experience and it is with reluctance and some irritation that she takes his advice. Their relationship which is far different from the Holmes and Watson one moves these mysteries forward and it is their ability to work on their own as well as together that keeps them so perfectly matched.
This is another good read and the legend of Mary Russell is growing.