Sherlock Shinobi

I am not getting a whole lot of reading done, and considering how much I anticipated the new Russell&Holmes adventure, "Dreaming Spies", by Laurie R King, it has taken me an uncharacteristically long time to get through it. The last quarter, however, was so exciting I sacrificed a few hours of sleep for it.

Our detective partners are just come home from their latest adventure in Marocko ("Garment of Shadows") and finds Mrs Hudson puzzled about a rock that has been delivered and carefully placed in their garden. The Holmeses do not take this as a puzzle to be solved, so we understand that they know what this rock is and why it has been given to them. Russell goes up to her house in Oxford, where she is met by an intruder, asking for her help. And so starts a lengthy flashback of their round-the-world trip and visit to Japan, one year earlier. (This would have taken place between "The Game" and "Locked Doors".)

One of the things I really like about King is how well she seems to understand the context in which she places her protagonists. Japanese culture - that whole thing about loosing face - is usually incomprehensible to me (I recently read an article in the paper about a Swedish exchange student in China who got into trouble with the police when trying to stop a fight in a nightclub, and how his attitude - perfectly understandable to a European - caused him a year of grief with the justice system, until he swallowed his pride and was promptly released after having begged forgiveness for something he hadn´t done) but King explains it well through the situations she puts the husband/wife team in.

This is the first of the novels where Russell and Holmes are really one hundred percent comfortable with each other as working partners - there is a higher level of trust and confidence, and a natural and easy division of labour - and I like how King has let her characters evolve through the series. She is, as always, very humouristic, sometimes slapstick funny. And again, she gives the most interesting and complex roles to the women of her cast; not that one really notices, as she is never overtly feminist.

Well, you can tell, I find it hard indeed to find fault with King´s work. I have realized that this series is not to everyone´s taste, although I can´t really understand why, but there it is. I do wish, however, that every reader finds a few series that he or she can relish as much as I do this!

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