Twitter Tumblr FlickrFacebookContact me
This Month Previous Articles Author Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA Portfolio

Recent posts


Month in review

Reviews
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth
Blue Mountain by Martine Leavitt
Bob's Hungry Ghost by Geneviève Côté
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
The Cute Girl Network by M.K. Reed
Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King
Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross
Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris
Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen
Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper
How Much Is a Million? by David M. Schwartz
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
My Pet Book by Bob Staake
No by Claudia Rueda
Pigmalion by Glenda Leznoff
Science Fiction by Joe Ollmann
Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue
Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle 10 by CLAMP
The Twins' Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Waluk by Emilo Ruiz
Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo by Emma Chichester Clark
Wire Mothers: Harry Harlow and the Science of Love by Jim Ottaviani
You and Me by Susan Verde

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Dreaming Spies: 10/14/15

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King: Russell and Sherlock go to Japan.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King is the thirteenth Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery. Actually it's two mysteries in one: one set in Japan between The Game and Locked Doors, and one set back in England immediately following Locked Doors.

En route to Japan, Holmes (in disguise as Mr. Russell) and Russell, meet a mysterious young Japanese woman. Meanwhile, they are aware of a blackmail plot happening aboard ship. And there might have been a murder, as a passenger has gone missing. The key to unwrapping these mysteries seems to lie in the hands of their new friend, Hiruki.

The adventure this time has three parts: the ship, Japan, and back home in England. The strongest part of the book is the England part where Russell is in her element, books, libraries, and forgeries. I really wish more time had spent in this part of the story.

Instead, though, most of the time is spent in Japan, following Batosa's pilgrimage route, and later riding by train to Tokyo. The biggest problem is just in the extended juggling act of outlining how exotic Japan is (compared to English and American sensibilities) while showing cultural sensitivity (of the "look, I did my homework" variety). And yet there are numerous times that the Japanese "Engrish" shows up, Japanese food is criticized, and so forth. On their pilgrimage, Russell and Holmes make complete asses of themselves and seem perplexed that the people they meet are less than forthcoming with offers of help.

And then to outdo the most ridiculous fan service type anime ever, Holmes and Russell get to learn the reason for the pilgrimage and finally meet their client. And get this, they do it in a mixed gender onsen. Seriously?! OK, sure, Churchill met people whilst in the bath, but, a future emperor meeting complete strangers from a distant land (even ones with such international reputations) while at an onsen?

And then... the crown prince, after Russell has time to clear the purple lines of doom / embarrassment from her face, speaks in Engrish. Why can't he just be given normally written dialog with a slight aside about his accent?

For a better exchange of Japanese and European cultures and culture shock, I recommend the animé Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth. It's the story of a young girl from Japan being apprenticed to a glass blower in Paris. It takes place a few years before Dreaming Spies but gets the period feel of Japan's interest in western culture better.

So really and truly, the book would have done a better presentation of Japan of 90 years ago by glossing over the actual trip through the country and putting the focus on the shenanigans on the ship, and the post mortem at Oxford. The only truly necessary scene in Japan is the one at the ball where Russell and Holmes fail utterly and completely. The book, frankly, should have started there and then gone back to the ship and then forward to England.

Four stars

Comments (0)


Name:
Email (won't be posted):
Blog URL:
Comment: