King, Laurie R.: (09) The Language of Bees

The Language of Bees is the most recent book in Laurie R. King’s Russell/Holmes series, and it picks up a past reference that I thought she’d changed her mind about: Holmes’ lovely, lost son. The book indeed contains a careful, consistent, and completely unconvincing explanation why, nine books into a series, we’re only now hearing about said son in any detail. But, regardless, he’s back and needs help: his wife is missing.

This book is sort of the inverse of Locked Rooms, in that it’s principally about the psychological effects of a family-related mystery on one main character from the perspective of the other. I seem to have lost my feel for this version of Holmes since the last book in the series; this portrayal seems reasonable enough, but it doesn’t really delight me in that character-revelation kind of way that one might hope for, seeing an established character thrust into a difficult situation. But I was always more interested in Russell in these books, anyway.

There is an opening section involving Holmes’ bees, the relevance of which entirely escapes me; I suppose it must be thematic, but that feels clunky. (Or it’s just giving Russell something to do while Holmes is off getting the plot started.) And readers should be aware that the book literally ends on a “to be continued,” though it contains a reasonable amount of closure. On the whole, this book doesn’t change my general approach to the series, which is to get it out of the library.

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  1. I stalled out on the Russell/Holmes series after Justice Hall (which I found surprisingly satisfying). I was worried enough by the potential for cultural ickiness in The Game that I just skipped it, and I couldn’t make it more than a few chapters into Locked Rooms. I read this review wondering if this latest book would give me a reason to go back to them. Doesn’t sound like it.
    I’ve enjoyed King’s Kate Martinelli books, but also found they were subject to the law of diminishing returns. Alas.

  2. Heh. I haven’t dared re-read _The Game_.
    I also like _Justice Hall_ the best, I think, and then _The Moor_ next.

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