by Laurie R. King
[Holmes] shot me a look of long-suffering impatience. “Russell, you do have the most disconcerting habit of stepping into the centre of things.”
Laurie R. King’s Russell/Holmes series is one of the series of books that I am really invested in and I am in it for the long haul. I buy them in Hardback, even though I prefer to read e-books. The Hardbacks are gorgeous, by the way. It’s a “till death do us part” kind of commitment. Literally. Since I knew that this one brought back Mrs. Hudson last seen 2 books and 4 years ago (a couple of months in book-time) I picked up The Murder of Mary Russell to refresh my memory of all that was revealed about her history in that installment. I’m glad I did re-establish that foundation because this book builds on what was revealed and, to me, can only be given a fair reading in the context of that novel.
In May, I had learned that my beloved Mrs. Hudson possessed a History that was scandalous, adventurous, and criminal. Mrs. Hudson, who had looked across her kitchen at a truculent fifteen-year-old girl…and perceived not the ink-stains of education and the accents of an upbringing, as Sherlock Holmes had seen, but the clear signs of pain and hunger and emptiness….But I was very young when I lost my family. The loss of Mrs. Hudson felt like a second abandonment…I realized…that what I wanted most was not to tell her that I forgave her. What I wanted was for her to forgive me, for having judged her.
Riviera Gold concerns the establishment of a new chapter in Mary Russell and her surrogate grandmother, Sherlock Holmes’ Mrs. Hudson’s relationship. Is it the final chapter? I doubt it. This book ends with some unresolved questions that will be more than likely be satisfied another day in another installment.
As with all of the books, one of the strengths of this one was the exotic locale and meeting the historical people King’s books are peppered with. In this one we are gifted with Sara and Gerald Murphy, Pablo Picasso, Basil Zaharoff, and, most prominently, Lily Langtry. We also get a passing glimpse of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and a mention of Sidney Reilly (Ace of Spies). The reader is truly transported into the foreign country that is the past. And they do indeed do things differently there. The primary attraction of these books is not, for me, the adventure and the intrigue but the complex and deeply drawn personalities of Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes, and their intriguing and sometimes titillating relationship.
“…if I’m to face a taxi drive back along the coast, maybe I should drink myself unconscious.”…”As you like. Although when I checked in, I did mention that my wife might be joining me.” Nothing about him suggested that it mattered one way or the other to him-nothing but the quiet humour in the back of his eyes that traced a feather-light finger all the the way down my spine. I cleared my throat. “Well. I should hate to disappoint the management.”
I did not fool him one whit. But then, neither did I believe his apparent lack of interest in my preference.
So in Riviera Gold, besides relationship development of fascinating people that we also care for, we are immersed in a murder mystery with our Mrs. Hudson briefly jailed and under suspicion, lost Romanov gold, smugglers, casinos, being too close for comfort with a ruthless and powerful arms dealer, conspiracy and betrayal, Jazz Age society, and the daring and dramatic last-minute rescue of a principal in the stories.
On to the next adventure which will apparently involve Vampires in Romania! I’m all in. **4 stars out of 5**
July 24, 2020