A Monstrous Regiment of Women

Rating: +

Laurie King

The sequel to The Beekeeper's Apprentice, we follow Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes into their next set of adventures. As the book opens, Mary and Holmes have a falling out, and Mary sets off into London on her own to investigate a feminist church, the New Temple of God, whose charismatic leader wants Mary to instruct her in theology (Mary having gotten her degree in it at Oxford). Members seem to die and leave significant sums of money to the church a little too frequently, and the leader seems to live a little too well for the message of charity that she preaches, but it isn't clear if there has been any wrongdoing.

This setting opens the way for many sub-themes of women's capabilities and their place in society. During the course of the book, Mary turns twenty-one and comes into her large inheritance and freedom from her aunt. A friend's fiancée is discovered to have become a drug addict, and Mary confronts Holmes with the task of helping him recover, introducing Holmes's feelings about his own fight with addiction. As in The Beekeeper's Apprentice, these personal problems are given as much prominence as the mystery behind the New Temple of God. And, continuing the plot from the predecessor book, the relationship between Mary and Holmes is explored further.

This book was written as a single, large mystery, as compared to the vignette style that the Holmes stories and A Beekeeper's Apprentice follow. This allowed for more character development and exploration of the themes described above, but also made for slightly less of a mystery novel as compared to a novel about people who are caught up in a mystery. However, I became interested in Mary and Holmes, and their story is engaging, so I don't think the style is detrimental to the book. Another '+'.


Review written July 2001.


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