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1 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z

Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes


Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Cover

ISBN13: 9780553807981
ISBN10: 0553807986
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Ship of Fools

November 6-22, 1924


Ruth: I did not catch the word aright, through being hard of hearing...I took and bound this promising boy apprentice to a pirate.

"Honestly, Holmes? Pirates?"

"That is what I said."

"You want me to go and work for pirates."

O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea, our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free...

"My dear Russell, someone your age should not behaving trouble with her hearing." Sherlock Holmes solicitous was Sherlock Holmes sarcastic.

"My dear Holmes, someone your age should not be overlooking incipient dementia. Why do you wish me to go and work for pirates?"

"Think of it as an adventure, Russell."

"May I point out that this past year has been nothing but adventure? Ten back-to-back cases between us in the past fifteen months, stretched over, what, eight countries? Ten, if one acknowledges the independence of Scotland and Wales. What I need is a few weeks with nothing more demanding than my books."

"You should, of course, feel welcome to remain here."

The words seemed to contain a weight beyond their surface meaning. A dark and inauspicious weight. A Mariner's albatross sort of a weight. I replied with caution. "This being my home, I generally do feel welcome."

"Ah. Did I not mention that Mycroft is coming to stay?"

"Mycroft? Why on earth would Mycroft come here? In all the years I've lived in Sussex, he's visited only once."

"Twice, although the other occasion was while you were away. However, he's about to have the builders in, and he needs a quiet retreat."

"He can afford an hotel room."

"This is my brother, Russell," he chided.

Yes, exactly: my husband's brother, Mycroft Holmes. Whom I had thwarted-blatantly, with malice aforethought, and with what promised to be heavy consequences-scant weeks earlier. Whose history, I now knew, held events that soured my attitude towards him. Who wielded enormous if invisible power within the British government. And who was capable of making life uncomfortable for me until he had tamped me back down into my position of sister-in-law.

"How long?" I asked.

"He thought two weeks."

Fourteen days: 336 hours: 20,160 minutes, of first-hand opportunity to revenge himself on me verbally, psychologically, or (surely not?) physically. Mycroft was a master of the subtlest of poisons-I speak metaphorically, of course-and fourteen days would be plenty to work his vengeance and drive me to the edge of madness.

And only the previous afternoon, I had learnt that my alternate lodgings in Oxford had been flooded by a broken pipe. Information that now crept forward in my mind, bringing a note of dour suspicion.

No, Holmes was right: best to be away if I could.

Which circled the discussion around to its beginnings.

"Why should I wish to go work with pirates?" I repeated.

"You would, of course, be undercover."

"Naturally. With a cutlass between my teeth."

"I should think you would be more likely to wear a night-dress."

"A night-dress." Oh, this was getting better and better.

"As I remember, there are few parts for females among the pirates. Although they may decide to place you among the support staff."

"Pirates have support staff?" I set my tea-cup back into its saucer, that I might lean forward and examine my husband's face. I could see no overt indications of lunacy. No more than usual.

He ignored me, turning over a page of the letter he had been reading, keeping it on his knee beneath the level of the table. I could not see the writing-which was, I thought, no accident.

"I should imagine they have a considerable number of personnel behind the scenes," he replied.

"Are we talking about pirates-on-the-high-seas, or piracy-as-violation-of-copyright-law?"

"Definitely the cutlass rather than the pen. Although Gilbert might have argued for the literary element."

"Gilbert?" Two seconds later, the awful light of revelation flashed through my brain; at the same instant, Holmes tossed the letter onto the table so I could see its heading.

Headings, plural, for the missive contained two separate letters folded together. The first was from Scotland Yard. The second was emblazoned with the words, D'Oyly Carte Opera.

I reared back, far more alarmed by the stationery than by the thought of climbing storm-tossed rigging in the company of cut-throats.

"Gilbert and Sullivan?" I exclaimed."Pirates as in Penzance? Light opera and heavy humour? No. Absolutely not. Whatever Inspector Lestrade has in mind, I refuse."

"One gathers," Holmes reflected, reaching for another slice of toast, "that the title originally did hold a double entendre, Gilbert's dig at the habit of American companies to flout the niceties of British copyright law."

He was not about to divert me by historical tidbits or an insult against my American heritage: This was one threat against which my homeland would have to mount its own defence.

"You've dragged your sleeve in the butter." I got to my feet, picking up my half-emptied plate to underscore my refusal.

"It would not be a singing part," he said.

I walked out of the room.

He raised his voice. "I would do it myself, but I need to be here for Mycroft, to help him tidy up after the Goodman case."

Answer gave I none.

"It shouldn't take you more than two weeks, three at the most. You'd probably find the solution before arriving in Lisbon."

"Why-" I cut the question short; it did not matter in the least why the D'Oyly Carte company wished me to go to Lisbon. I poked my head back into the room. "Holmes: no. I have an entire academic year to catch up on. I have no interest whatsoever in the entertainment of hoipolloi. The entire thing sounds like a headache. I am not going to Lisbon, or even London. I'm not going anywhere. No."


Pirate king: I don't think much of our profession, but, contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest.

My steamer lurched into Lisbon on a horrible sleet-blown November morning.

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Turner42, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Turner42)
Laurie R. King did a fabulous job in continuing one of the best detective series. I particularly enjoyed the way she brought Holmes into the case well into the book. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Her visit to Powell's was an added bonus. She was a delight to hear.
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Ted Washburne, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Ted Washburne)
Laurie King has beatifully captured the fantasy of the REAL Sherlock Holmes, and she continues to creat these adventure mysteries that take you all over the world and back again to a quiet book in your own quiet space! Awesome!
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Danielle G, September 30, 2011 (view all comments by Danielle G)
Pirates. They capture our imagination and sentiment, and that is just the problem investagator Mary Russell faces. This splendid farce about a silent film about a film about a film about the Pirates of Penzance..wait, I can't remember how many layers there are, but it's about pirates, real and imaginary, literary and cinematic. Per usual, Laurie King brings the time and landscape of the 1930s alive with rich detail and impeccable research, which weaves a fabric for her story to ride, rollicking, through mysteries like just who is selling guns and drugs from film sets and why does this Portugese translator/poet have multiple personalities? It is the kind of book you can't put down, and though pirates have been overdone, they haven't yet been done quite so existentially as King does them. It is a must read, but by the end I began to wonder if the author is beginning to tire of writing about Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes. I hope not, as this world is fun, fantastic and still enjoyable to read.
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Product Details

A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
King, Laurie R.
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
Mystery-A to Z
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.52 x 6.26 x 1.12 in 1.18 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Historical

Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Bantam - English 9780553807981 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In a foreword, King, to her credit, acknowledges the implausibility of her 11th Mary Russell novel (after The God of the Hive) by having her heroine declare, 'I fear that the credulity of many readers will be stretched to the breaking point by the case's intricate and, shall we say, colourful complexity of events.' If anything, this is an understatement. In the fall of 1924, Sherlock Holmes, Mary's husband, uses the threat of an impending visit from his brother, Mycroft, with whom she's at odds, to persuade Mary to travel to Lisbon, where she's ostensibly to serve as a production assistant for 'a film about a film about The Pirates of Penzance.' In fact, she's on covert assignment for the British government to investigate the studio behind the new film, whose releases appear to coincide with an upsurge in criminal activity. Sherlockians must wait more than half the book for Holmes to put in a cameo in this action-heavy, deduction-light installment. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Brilliant and beautifully complex....Her descriptions of locales are voluptuous, and her continued delineation of the relationship of Russell and Holmes exquisitely portrays the eroticism of intellectual give-and-take."
"Review" by , "The Mary Russell series is the most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today."
"Review" by , "The great marvel of King's series is that she' managed to preserve the integrity of Holmes's character and yet somehow conjure up a woman astute, edgy, and compelling enough to be the partner of his mind as well as his heart."
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