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Castle Shade: 11/02/22
Castle Shade by Laurie R. King is the seventeenth book in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. It opens on a train with Mary confused and feverish. Eventually she learns that she and Sherlock are headed towards Romania for a case. They've been hired by that country's queen to investigate rumors of vampires terrorizing the village near the summer castle.
Like Mary, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the mention of vampires. Of course Mary had coincidentally started reading Dracula on her trip. So rational Mary's head is now full of nightmarish images. Vampires in a mystery set in Romania is as frustratingly cliche as witches in a Tony Hillerman mystery.
Discounting the vampires, the mystery itself is a man presumed dead during the Great War has appeared in the village. Meanwhile there are ghostly events happening in the castle. As the building is old, most people are just accepting these noises and strange occurrences as part and parcel of living in a structure with history.
Me, though, I jumped right to my favorite horror film: Housebound (2014). If it's not a ghost, then there's someone living in the castle, lurking around at hours when everyone else is asleep. If this person needs to be hiding, then there is a living person with access to the castle who is dangerous. The tl/dr version, is yes, it's Housebound but in a Romanian castle.
Except it's not nearly as fun as the film. It's long and full of unnecessary padding. I get that the author did her research. I get that Mary as a character has been set up to be one who loves to explain everything. But this novel had too much information and too many discussions on how similar Romanian is to Latin.