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Pirate King: 04/22/12

cover art

Pirate King by Laurie R King is the eleventh of the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series. After a two part, rather dark thriller involving the collision of Holmes's past and present, Pirate King takes a much lighter tone, combining mystery with farce.

Mary is shanghaied into working as an assistant on the current Fflytte Films extravaganza, a metafilm that celebrates the Pirates of Penzance operetta. Mary, having no interest in either the operetta or flicks, is less than thrilled at the prospects. But there's a missing young woman and a string of shady events that seem to follow the production company around.

For me, this was the perfect mixture of details. I have a masters in film theory (with an emphasis on early film history) and have seen The Pirates of Penzance on the stage more times than I can count. So putting the two together with Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, and I was in my own personal cozy heaven. My husband can attest to my maniacal laughter produced while reading (and re-reading) favorites scenes in Pirate King.

Fans who enjoy the interaction between Russell and Holmes, might be disappointed. Holmes is really a minor character in this one. He's there but he appears late in the game and most of the adventure and heroism is Russell's.

Fans who want to read the book but aren't familiar with The Pirates of Penzance should probably at least listen to the song — or better — watch the operetta before reading the book. A basic knowledge of the play will help with the appreciation of the novel.

Five stars

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 15:00:18


I haven't read this one yet (I'm only two books into the series) but I picked it up for my wife's birthday last fall (she absolutely loves the series).

Her reaction matched up to what you pointed out though she was a little less enamoured with the book mainly because Holmes had such a diminished role. She really enjoyed the interactions between Russell and Holmes and as she read the book, she kept commenting to me "Holmes still hasn't shown up yet..."

But she did enjoy it. I personally enjoyed the first two books in the series and I've always enjoyed Pirates of Penzance, so I'm looking forward to catching up and eventually reading this book.

Thanks for the review.

Comment #2: Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 11:07:50


I initially felt disappointed at the lack of Holmes and then I realized that the series has never been about Sherlock Holmes. It has always been about Mary Russell. It's only in the last couple of books that Holmes has taken center stage. Pirate King is the pendulum swinging back to how things were at the start of the series.

Comment #3: Friday, May 04, 2012 at 10:29:28


I wish I had followed your advice and watched Pirates of Penzance before reading this. While I knew the basic story and some of the songs, I'm sure it would have added even more enjoyment.

Comment #4: Saturday, May 05, 2012 at 20:10:05


You could always go back and watch the operetta.

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