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A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #2)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  14,460 ratings  ·  1,126 reviews
Winner of the Nero Wolfe Award

It is 1921 and Mary Russell--Sherlock Holmes's brilliant apprentice, now an Oxford graduate with a degree in theology--is on the verge of acquiring a sizable inheritance. Independent at last, with a passion for divinity and detective work, her most baffling mystery may now involve Holmes and the burgeoning of a deeper affection between herself
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 15th 1995 by Minotaur Books (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted to The Literary

A Thinker's Mystery - 4.5 Stars

I was not disappointed with the second novel in this (so far) intelligent series by Laurie R. King. In this novel, the author does an absolutely superb job of using the mystery to move the issues that the book contemplates. I would not go so far as to say that this is "message fiction" but the author certainly uses this to deal with issues that, while historical, nevertheless persist.

Plot summary

Our feisty protagonist, Mary R
On page 328 a (what I hoped was minor) subplot grabbed my suspension of disbelief and threw it out the bar window. Subplot angled itself toward the exit and thrust open the louvered, slightly squeaky doors. It walked over to Suspension chuckling mildly, the spurs on its boots clinking in what would've been a merry way had it not been so ominous. Subplot wedged one spurred boot's tip under Suspension's still sprawling figure, flipped it over onto its back and rested the boot on its chest. Gazing ...more
I'm torn about this book. Some of it I really liked, some I didn't like at all. If I were reading this instead of listening to audio, I don't think I would have gotten past the first half of the book. I didn't care for the character Veronica. I didn't care for the character Margery, big time . I didn't care for the Temple and all the people associated with it. Too much religion, too little Holmes. And Holmes confessing to Mary at the end of the book that he's wanted to kiss Mary since he first ...more
Sep 24, 2007 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is my favorite of the Holmes/Russell series, and one of my favorite books, period. I've read it innumerable times, and keep coming back to it. A beautiful blend of coming-of-age, detection, romance, and gritty drama, it gets at the heart of the series. Mary Russell's friend draws her into what seems like an odd religious cult, with disturbing overtones. At the same time, she has to settle a growing discomfort with her relationship with Holmes, and her future with him. Read it -- this book i ...more
This is the second in the Mary Russell series, and it loses a star for its lame-o mystery. Mary Russell, now in her early twenties, takes the foreground as her mentor Holmes stays mostly in the background, due to Mary's increasing independence and a rising sexual tension between the two. And again, the characters are the strongest part - in this second book, the plot hinges on a sort of feminist mega-church led by an extremely charismatic woman who surrounds herself with a flock of rich young wo ...more
After reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I decided to ride on the high of enjoyment I'd acquired while reading it, and plunged straight into the next book in the Mary Russell series, titled A Monstrous Regiment of Women.

To say that the title is intriguing is something of an understatement. It is taken from the title of John Knox's treatise The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, which was published in 1558 and is, as the title indicates, a document against women
The Lit Bitch
This is a solid, entertaining follow up book in a stand out series. I can’t say enough good things about this book and the series as a whole.

King isn’t afraid of putting her characters into unique situations and is willing to touch on sensitive subjects such as religion. She clearly spends time researching the historic period, religious, political, and social issues of the day. Her attention to detail is effortless and will keep readers salivating for more Russell and Holmes!

See my full review
A Monstrous Regiment of Women isn't my favorite of the Holmes/Russell novels, but that's a little like saying dark isn't my favorite type of chocolate. It's still chocolate, and therefore by definition far better than many another thing.

Mary Russell has graduated from Oxford, is about to turn twenty-one and achieve separation from her horrible aunt … and her joy at these two events is dampened a bit by the peculiarities of her evolving relationship with her mentor Holmes, never an easy person to
Clif Brittain
As I put this book down at 2 AM, I found myself thinking, why was this book so delicious?

I am not as enthralled with Mary Russell as I was after being introduced to her in Beekeepers Apprentice. Maybe it is because now that I know her character, there is less to learn about her. I am not quite so awed by her beauty, but if she keeps getting nicked with knives, bullets and needles, there won't be much of that left. There were fewer brilliant deductions and fewer encounters with Holmes, although
An Odd1
The title "Monstrous Regiment of Women" is the vast pool of females deprived of men by WW1 and of importance by peace. Hero Mary Russell gains her full inheritance, feels uncomfortable with Holmes' former comrade-mentor relationship, and investigates charismatic suffragette sect Temple leader Margery. Research was extensive, on feminism lost in biblical translations, and desperate conditions of 1920s British females. I admire author King's talent for conveying ambience of Doyle's era - astonishe ...more
Probably more of a 3 1/2 star read, if only for the fact that the mystery was somewhat lame and part of the narrative ((view spoiler))rather more implausible than it needed to be. Still, Mary Russell is a well-drawn character, her independence, intelligence, temper and sense of humour collectively helping me overcome any impulse I might have to refer to her as Mary-Sue Russell. Holmes is believably Holmes. The ...more

I don't typically read mysteries and never would have selected this book for myself based upon the description, but found myself desperate for reading material on an overly-long trip abroad and picked this up at the traveler's book-swap in a hotel. I couldn't wait to get home and read every book in the series!

I'm not sure precisely what draws me to this series most, but I think it's the characters and locales. I don't find myself wondering how the mystery will be solved as I'm read
Stephanie Swint
‘A Monstrous Regiment of Women’ is the second novel in Laurie R. King’s ‘Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes’ series. I have very mixed feelings regarding this book. Right until the end this was going to go on my favorites shelf and could only receive a 5 star rating but there is a twist at the end that has left me disappointed and uncomfortable for the future of the series. I’m still coming to terms with it. I waited to write my review because of these feelings. I did not want to unfairly overshad ...more
Joyce Lagow
Sequel to The Beekeeper s Apprentice.[return][return]Desperate to escape cloying Christmas celebrations with her detested aunt and barely-known relatives, Russell in one of her favorite disguises--that of a young working-class male, takes off for London, where she has a hilarious encounter with Homes that I refuse to spoil. Later, she meets an old friend from Oxford, Lady Veronica Beaconsfield, who is living in a tenement and working to aid lower-class families. Ronnie takes Russell to a lecture ...more
I liked the first book but put off following it up because of the very mixed reviews. Having reread BA, I decided to go on and try this myself. What I most liked about the first book was: Mary, seeing a Sherlock who was more realistic than in Doyle's books, and the historical setting.

So far Monstrous Regiment reminds me very much of the first book. We're seeing a lot of Mary and not much Sherlock. Also, there's no actual plot in the beginning, just following Mary around in her life and her mind
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Olga Godim
A confusing and inconsistent book. It’s advertised as “a novel of suspense” but the suspense only starts in the second half of the novel and it contributes very little to the plotline.
The novel takes place in 1921 in London and Oxford. The book follows Mary Russell, a young heiress reading (the British equivalent of studying – don’t you just love Anglicisms?) theology in Oxford, on her exploration of a new religious movement and its leader Margery Childe.
Like Mary, Childe is a feminist and she
Book 42 2012 Reading Challenge -- Spoiler!
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found a couple of flaws that I couldn't settle well with. I doubt Marjorie could have married the individual she did and keep it from the Temple. That just didn't make sense to me. I also found a fair amount of inconsistencies in Marjorie that bothered me, though she was an interesting character. Since I did my post - grad work in religion, the emphasis on religion and scholarship in this book did not faze me. Some reviewe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 14, 2007 George rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical mystery readers
Second in the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series. This one picks up six years later as Mary becomes 21 gets her inheritance, and becomes independent. She has also completed her studies at Oxford and is working on a paper presentation with a professor.

Complications develop as she becomes involved with a woman's movement, mysterious deaths, faces extreme personal danger, and continues working with and devloping her relationship with Sherlock Holmes. This novel is more Mary than Sherlock.
I am glad I went into this book completely cold and plan to do so for the rest of the series, too. The action is good but not as tight as in the first installment. I love the interaction between Holmes and Russell, and with Holmes out of the picture for chapters at a time I felt a little bereft. There were very good reasons, and all became clear at the end, but I wanted happy verbal sparring, damn it!

And, the end. Ooo boy, the end.

(view spoiler)
What a ridiculously horrid follow up to the fantastic 'the beekeper's apprentice'!..Mary Russel as a narrator is self centered! the book drags on ever so slowly with barely a semblance of a plot,let alone a mystery..terrible. Never picking up a Laurie King book again. And to think i was excited about a whole series about mary russel and sherlock holmes!
She crossed the line. She took what was an interesting take on a literary icon and got all mushy and romantic. The first book was much better than this, and she'd have been fine keeping Holmes and Russell as a team rather than a couple. A married Sherlock Holmes... just ridiculous.
❂ Jennifer (reviews on BookLikes)
An excellent story, beautifully written. I'm a Holmes purist but this is a worthy pastiche (although I take exception to one liberty the author took). I highly recommend it.

Full review:
Do be warned that I will do my best to keep spoilers out of the review and dutifully mark them when I accidentally include something, but I probably won't catch everything.

In some ways, I liked this book better than the first. Then, in others, I didn't like it.

Mary Russell was, once again, spot on. Loved her character. Loved how involved she was in feminism. She was great, and she had a larger role. This book wasn't focused on the past and setting up her relationship with Holmes, so there was bi
Both better and worse than the first of this series. A worthy sequel.
Main character Mary Russell happens upon a women's temple headed by a charismatic leader, Margery Childe. It is evident throughout the book that Laurie R. King, the author, is a feminist and thus Mary Russell is as well. I like strong female protagonists, and this position was not a surprise to me. What thinking woman today wouldn't want every good thing for all women? What did surprise me was the religious philosophy discussed in this book. It really was fascinating to me. Mary, whose has just ...more
A monstrous Regiment of Women is the follow up, and indeed it is a hard act to follow, of the Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. I enjoyed this story but at the same time must admit that the poignancy and enthusiam I felt during the reading of the Beekeeper's Apprentice was missing. I chalk this up to two factors. The relationship between Holmes and Mary Russell takes a backseat in this story and at the same time comes to the forefront but in a romantic way. So there is less personal inte ...more
Christine Rose
Oct 22, 2009 Christine Rose rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christine by: Patricia Pneumatikos
A Monstrous Regiment of Women, by Laurie R. King, was a good read for me. Although I had a little trouble getting into it during the first chapter, ultimately I quite enjoyed it.

The second book in the Mary Russell series (I haven't yet read the first), this book follows the life of Mary Russel shortly after the Christmas Holidays, right when she comes of age and inherits a rather large fortune. Sherlock Holmes's presence is felt throughout the book even though his physical presence is far more s
Elisa Becze
I can't get over how much I adore these books. Mary Russell is like a 1921 version of Alias's Sydney Bristow - intelligent, poised, and graceful on the surface, but determined, cunning, deliberate, and focused once you look a little deeper. And Sherlock Holmes is utterly charming - in fact, my one complaint was that he was not featured enough in the first two-thirds of the book, although that was entirely remedied by the fast-paced ending.

(view spoiler)
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Add Audio CD Edition 2 152 Nov 14, 2012 06:39AM  
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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 Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3)
  • 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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“Margery," I blurted out in a passion of frustration. "I don't know what to make of you!"

Nor I you, Mary. Frankly, I cannot begin to comprehend the motives of a person who dedicates a large portion of her life to the contemplation of a God in whom she only marginally believes."

I felt stunned, as if she had struck me in the diaphragm. She looked down at me, trying to measure the effect of her words.

Mary, you believe in the power that the idea of God has on the human mind. You believe in the way human beings talk about the unknowable, reach for the unattainable, pattern their imperfect lives and offer their paltry best up to the beingless being that created the universe and powers its continuation. What you balk as it believing the evidence of your eyes, that God can reach out and touch a single human life in a concrete way." She smiled a sad, sad smile. "You mustn't be so cold, Mary. If you are, all you will see is a cold God, cold friends, cold love. God is not cold-never cold. God sears with heat, not ice, the heat of a thousand suns, heat that inflames but does not consume. You need warmth, Mary-you, Mary, need it. You fear it, you flirt with it, you imagine that you can stand in its rays and retain your cold intellectual attitude towards it. You imagine that you can love with your brain. Mary, oh my dear Mary, you sit in the hall and listen to me like some wild beast staring at a campfire, unable to leave, fearful of losing your freedom if you come any closer. It won't consume you; I won't capture you. Love does not do either. It only brings life. Please, Mary, don't let yourself be tied up by the bonds of cold academia."

Her words, the power of her conviction, broke over me like a great wave, inundating me, robbing me of breath, and, as they receded in the room, they pulled hard at me to folllow. I struggled to keep my footing against the wash of Margery's vision, and only when it began to lose its strength, dissipated against the silence in the room, was I seized by a sudden terror at the nearness of my escape.”
“These last weeks, since Christmas, have been odd ones. I have begun to doubt that I knew you as well as I thought. I have even wondered if you wished to keep some part of yourself hidden from me in order to preserve your privacy and your autonomy. I will understand if you refuse to give me an answer tonight, and although I freely admit I will be hurt by such a refusal, you must not allow my feelings to influence your answer." I looked up into his face. "The question I have for you, then is this: How are the fairies in your garden?"

By the yellow streetlights, I saw the trepidation that had been building up in face give way to a flash of relief, then to the familiar signs of outrage: the bulging eyes, the purpling skin, the thin lips. He cleared his throat.

"I am not a man much given to violence," he began, calmly enough, "but I declare that if that man Doyle came before me today, I should be hard-pressed to avoid trouncing him." The image was a pleasing one, two gentlemen on the far side of middle age, one built like a bulldog and the other like a bulldong, engaging in fisticuffs. "It is difficult enough to surmount Watson's apparently endless blather in order to have my voice heard as a scientist, but now, when people hear my name, all they will think of is that disgusting dreamy-eyed little girl and her preposterous paper cutouts. I knew the man was limited, but I did not even suspect that he was insane!"

"Oh, well, Holmes," I drawled into his climbing voice. "Look on the bright side. You've complained for years how tedious it is to have everyone with a stray puppy or a stolen pencil box push through your hedges and tread on the flowers; now the British Public will assume that Sherlock Homes is as much a fairy tale as those photographs and will stop plaguing you. I'd say the man's done you a great service." I smiled brightly.

For a long minute, it was uncertain whether he was going to strike me dead for my impertinence or drop dead himself of apoplexy, but then, as I had hoped, he threw back his head and laughed long and hard.”
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