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A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #3)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  13,012 Ratings  ·  781 Reviews
The third book in the Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series.

It is 1923. Mary Russell Holmes and her husband, the retired Sherlock Holmes, are enjoying the summer together on their Sussex estate when they are visited by an old friend, Miss Dorothy Ruskin, an archeologist just returned from Palestine. She leaves in their protection an ancient manuscript which seems to hint at
Paperback, 275 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Picador (first published 1996)
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May 28, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers, sherlock holmes afficianados
Shelves: mystery
Excellent addition to Laurie R. King's alt-Sherlock Holmes universe, A Letter of Mary finds Holmes and Russell, erm, rusticating , for want of a better term at their home on the Sussex downs. Both are relieved to get an intriguing letter from Dorothy Ruskin, an amateur archaeologist Russell had met during their last visit to Palestine.

Russell is shocked when only hours after visiting the couple, Miss Ruskin suffers an "accident" in London, and Holmes and Russell are back on the case.

A very soli
Oct 08, 2008 Tabitha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am very much enjoying this!

I think one of the tings I like about this series is that there is considerable intellect involved, both in the characters of Russell and Holmes themselves, and in the manner in which the mystery is solved.

In this 3rd installment we see the continuing development of Russell as Holmes' assistant, partner, and wife, and the evolution of the relationship between the two of them.The mysterious Mary M. letter, and it's implications, reflects the character of Russell, her re
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
If like me you can't bring yourself to believe that the restless mind of the great detective Sherlock Holmes could ever be content with the study of beekeeping you won't be surprised by the discovery of yet more lost manuscripts detailing his post retirement adventures. The Beekeeper's Apprentice introduced the character of Mary Russell; A Letter of Mary takes place years later and Mary has now married Sherlock - shocked gasp. King's books are meticulously researched and are fascinating studies ...more
Nov 19, 2009 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am trying to pinpoint why this has been my favorite, by far, of this series. Could it be that it has been so long since I have read the first two, that I have fallen in love with the series again? Could it be that the focus was much more on the case than on the relationship between Russell and Holmes (which, frankly, I still have trouble believing the romantic aspect of)? In the end, all I can say was that I had a hard time putting this book down. I literally carried it with me everywhere. I f ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Third in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series.[return][return]In the summer of 1923, Russell and Holmes are at home in Holmes cottage in Sussex. Russell is concentrating on finishing her first book on theology; Holmes is bored. Into their lives pops Dorothy Ruskin, an eccentric older Englishwoman, an amateur archaeologist, whom they met during their adventure in Palestine. She brings with her a letter written on parchment that could very well have been written by Mary of Magdala--Mary Magdale ...more
The year is 1923, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes is at their home in Sussex Downs busy with their studies. Russell with theology and Holmes with some chemical experiments. Then they are visited by amateur archaeologist Miss Dorothy Ruskin with a startling puzzle for them. She has found in the Holy Land a roll of papyrus with a message from Mary Magdalene. A couple of days is Miss Ruskin killed in a traffic accident. But was it really an accident.

The case in this book is intriguing with an anc
Sep 24, 2011 Kam rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, historical
After the disappointment of A Monstrous Regiment of Women, I was not very much inclined to read the next installment in the Mary Russell series, titled A Letter of Mary. I decided to forge on, though, in the hopes that this will prove better than the last one, and that it might wash away some of the bitter aftertaste of disappointment in the last book.

In this novel, Holmes and Russell appear to be settling well into married life after the events of A Monstrous Regiment of Women, when they are vi
This is the third mystery in this series.

While I enjoyed spending time with Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes, this installment seemed to get off to a bit of a slow start, the mystery picked up momentum once Mary went undercover.

I love the details of the many disguises that Mary and Sherlock employ as well as Mary's quick thinking and ability to take care of herself. Overall a fun, clever and charming mystery.
Nov 29, 2011 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems to me that each book in this series gets better--after the first one, which I thought was too long and convoluted, I wasn't sure if I would continue reading the series, but the second and this, the third, were absolutely brilliant! Sherlock Holmes and his new wife, Mary Russell, work again to solve the suspicious death of an old acquaintance, an archaeologist who comes back to England from Palestine with a peculiar gift for Mary. A day later, Dorothy Ruskin is struck down in a London st ...more
Candice Beever
I didn't like this book as much as the first two. I actually put it down twice in the middle to read other books and then again twenty pages from the end (mid-reveal). I just didn't care how the case ended.

The victim of the case was meant to be a personal friend of Mary's, which is why they get involved with the case at all, but I just didn't see the connection. They had only met once. How close of friends can they be?

Also, Mary ended up following the wrong lead on the case. So, half of the case
An Odd1
"A Letter of Mary" is a papyrus scrap, penned by a Mariam, apostle of Jesus, to her sister Judith of Magdala, commending the carrier Rachel, her grand-daughter to their care, days before the fall of Israel to the Roman heathens. Days after Dorothy Ruskin presents the gift in a delicate dainty wooden box to friends Mary and Sherlock Holmes, a car runs down and kills the white-haired intrepid archaeologist. Evidence of a deliberate trip-wire points to murder. Men with black hair and sharp knives v ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Christy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell mystery, and I read it, hoping to find the magic that captivated me in “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.” It isn’t here. The plot is poorly constructed, mainly focusing on a wild goose chase concerning a character that might possibly be the killer. Then, the real killer pops in out of the blue, and we realize that we were completely suckered, having wasted our time with 200 pages of nothing that mattered at all! And then there’s the title, which refers t ...more
May 09, 2012 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Guilty. I committed a great reading faux-pas.

Years ago I read The Beekeeper's Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women. My book group was reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice , so I reread it and loved it even more than I remembered. I decided to buy the next two books in the series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women and A Letter of Mary, but alas, book #3, A Letter of Mary, arrived first.

This was quite frustrating. I was so excited to read them and now I was presented with a dilemma. On the one
Aug 02, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of excellent writing and good mysteries
4.5 stars. A librarian who met her recently told me that Laurie R. King is a "true intellectual," and after reading this third book in the Mary Russell series, I have to agree. Her books read like classics. They are books to savor and to thoroughly enjoy. I truly enjoyed this installment, and will definitely be continuing with the series. It didn't earn a five from me because it lacks the emotional power of my recent fives. However, it's extremely well-written, intelligent, and I love Russell an ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love anything "Sherlock Holmes"esque. The audiobook version, featuring ,Jenny Sterling as the reader/narrator, really brings to life the characters of Holmes and protagonist Mary Russell. Laurie King's prose is most enjoyable. Can't wait for the next in the series.
Jan 31, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sleuthing
A very neat little mystery that promises a great deal in the way of theological intrigue and misogyny yet resolves itself in a mundane way. Much to Holmes's chagrin. How boring for him and a nice change for the reader.

I liked this installment of Mary Russell's "memoirs". It continues in Mary's theological vein, with the arrival of a purported letter from Mary Magdalene where she identifies herself as an apostle, but rather than the death-defying cat-and-mouse games of the first two books it has
Feb 23, 2013 Sher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this edition to the Mary Russell series, but not for the mystery, which I found just okay. No, it was the relationship and dialog between Holmes and Russell I found so interesting. Holmes loves Russell deeply and shows it in such intriguing and attractive ways. Such a twist - the difference between their ages. I enjoy seeing how their marriage and professional partnership evolves. Will read the next installment for sure.
Oct 19, 2013 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book and a well-written addition to King's Mary Russell series, but I was thirty pages into it when I realized it was another The Da Vinci Code ripoffs. Groan. Can't these people come up with their own all-you-thought-you-knew-about-Christianity-is-wrong plots? This one is actually more realistic than Dan Brown's, but it's been done.

It would probably amaze these people to know that their "abject terror" of the controversy is a bit overblown. Of course Jesus had female followers.
Stephanie Swint
Jun 22, 2014 Stephanie Swint rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I finished King’s second novel in this series, ‘A Monstrous Regiment of Women,’ I was left a bit uncomfortable and unhappy. King had always kept Mary and Sherlock’s relationship as a mentor and one of a guardian. At the end of that book Sherlock proposes. Their relationship while strained and questioning in the book hadn’t been romantic, but Mary had turned 21 and their relationship caused questions, especially when traveling together.

My first response was that King was throwing in a needle
Jun 25, 2014 ALPHAreader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes are happily ensconced in their Sussex countryside home. Well, maybe ‘happily’ isn’t quite the right word. Mary has graduated from Oxford and is writing a theological book, while Holmes prowls their little house like a bad-tempered cat. Some days he inhales the London papers, others he’s a bit too calculated in his refusal to keep updated on the goings on of his old city. Mary knows he’s hungry for a new case, but she’s reluctant to admit her own itch ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Renita D'Silva
Recommended to Judy by: M.R. Graham
I've recovered from the surprise marriage of Mary and Sherlock. It's now 1923 and Mary is contacted by a tutrix from Oxford that she and Sherlock met up with in book one while in Palestine, Dorothy Ruskin. Dorothy is coming to England to seek funding of an archeological dig and wants to see Mary and Sherlock. She brings them a mystery - an inlaid box with a stained papyrus roll inside. That evening, Dorothy is killed in a hit and run. But, Mary and Holmes soon think that it was murder, especiall ...more
Mark Robertson
Sep 25, 2015 Mark Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Russell, partner in all things to Sherlock Holmes, is not the Mary of this tale's title. That Mary is Mary Magdalane, who may or may not have authored the letter referenced in said title. Russell comes into possession of this letter through a friend, an aging archeologist whom she and Holmes had met years before while working a case in Palestine in the service of His Majesty the King.

I have to say up front that I find it hard to believe that the publication of the letter from Mary, if auth
Another lovely book in this series.

I don't have much to say about it, honestly. I thought the mystery was pretty good, although it didn't fully consume me as I would have liked. I still love Holmes and Mary. They're so cute together especially since (spoiler for the second book, so don't read the rest of this sentence) they're married now. That comment about the firstborn, though.... baby on the way? I can't see Holmes having a baby -- although it was hinted that he already had an illegitimate s
Jamie Collins
This is well written, and I enjoyed seeing Russell & Holmes again. The depiction of this pair as a contented married couple worked much better than I thought it would. However, the mystery plot is thin and has a terribly weak ending.

I liked Mary’s preparations for impersonating a particular sort of person - for instance, buying specific items of clothing and artificially aging them.

There’s an uncredited cameo appearance of a fictional character from another mystery series, (view spoiler)
Jul 17, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's 1923 and Mary Russell is now married to retired detective Sherlock Holmes and they are living quietly in Sussex. When Mary's friend, archeologist Dorothy Ruskin, comes for a visit and shows them a roll of papyrus supposedly written by Mariam of Magdala in which she identifies herself as an apostle of Jesus. A few days later, Dorothy is killed in a traffic accident. It's up to Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell to discover if it was an accident and whether the letter is genuine.
This series is getting better and I didn't think that was possible when the first two were already delicious. This one pulls Mary out of her academic pursuits to help an old archaeologist friend who has entrusted her with a priceless manuscript that will rock Christianity. Holmes and Mary are increasingly drawn into a whirlpool of red herrings and evidence as they try to find her murderer. The interplay between the two is priceless; Mycroft and Inspector Lestrade's son, who is also a detective, ...more
ms bookjunkie
Story: Fascinating, wonderful, intriguing story. (Containing a guest appearance by Lord Peter Wimsey! Eeeeeeee!) 5 stars

Narration: Spot on. Wonderful. Expressive. Great basic narrative, great female voices, okay to good male voices, pretty good accents.
Oct 16, 2016 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fabulous Mary Russell novel--this one had so many red herrings, though, I was totally confused. I do agree with Sherlock, though--I wish that the motive had ended up to be something other than money. It's interesting when a character in a novel shares the reader's opinion about the plot! I continue to really love this series.
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's most recent novel, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
More about Laurie R. King...

Other Books in the Series

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1)
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2)
  • The Moor (Mary Russell, #4)
  • O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
  • The Game (Mary Russell, #7)
  • Locked Rooms (Mary Russell, #8)
  • The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)
  • The God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)
  • Pirate King (Mary Russell, #11)

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“The hand of bone and sinew and flesh achieves its immortality in taking up a pen. The hand on a page wields a greater power than the fleshly hand ever could in life.” 9 likes
“The dead have a claim on us even heavier than that of the living, for they cannot hear our explanations, and we cannot ask their forgiveness.” 2 likes
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