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A Monstrous Regiment of Women

(Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  24,166 ratings  ·  1,920 reviews
A Monstrous Regiment of Women continues Mary Russell's adventures as a worthy student of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and as an ever more skilled sleuth in her own right. Looking for respite in London after a stupefying visit from relatives, Mary encounters a friend from Oxford. The young woman introduces Mary to her current enthusiasm, a strange and enigmatic woma ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published 2000 by HarperCollins (first published July 15th 1995)
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Helen Be that as it may, a miracle is pretty much it. Margery, as Mary says, was a mystic and there have been numerous examples of people going into a state…moreBe that as it may, a miracle is pretty much it. Margery, as Mary says, was a mystic and there have been numerous examples of people going into a state of ecstasy and coming out changed. (Please don't ask me to do the research to provide names and dates!) Considering the background to her mysticism and the problem over which her work fails, the likelihood of a mystic healing does sound a bit eyebrow raising but this is fiction so we'll just have to shake a finger at the author.(less)

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Jun 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
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
Tim The Enchanter
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The continuation of The Beekeeper's Apprentice; Mary Russell meets through her friend Veronica Beaconsfield, Margaret Childe who leads “The New Temple of God”, a charismatic sect for women. But, could New Temple be a cover for something sinister? Several women have died and left the money to the Temple. With the help of Holmes is Mary investigating the temple by going undercover.

I discovered a couple of years after I read the first book that there were more books published after the first book.
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
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
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guilty-pleasures
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
Wanda Pedersen
***2019 The Summer of Sherlock***

So after the first book of this series (The Beekeeper's Apprentice), I wasn’t sure what I thought of this iteration of the Sherlock Holmes story. But this book is so much more appealing. I surrender, I like this series.

The biggest part of my change of mind may be the obvious feminism in this volume. I love Mary Russell’s refusal to be hemmed in by the mores of the day. Cross-dressing when that’s better for getting things done, pursuing investigations not sanc
May 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Three compromise stars

Though I was glad to be finished with it, this is a well-told story with some originality and ambition.

It was also dark in ways I didn’t care for, including the troubling and somewhat disingenuous romance plot involving Sherlock in near-geezerhood and brimming with unlikability, and a very young thing, almost 40 years his junior and barely out of girlhood, though he has had a lustful eye on her since her actual girlhood.

Combine that with drug addiction, a cult, and a theo
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
The Lit Bitch
Oct 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, auth-f, 2022-read
Mary Russell is such a fantastic character. Here, she contends with an organization called the Temple that assists at-risk London women, and motivates wealthier women after the losses of their independence and authority during WWI. The organization is led by a powerfully charismatic woman, Margery, who is impressed by Mary. Mary has her suspicions about Margery, as three women involved with the organization have died under suspicious circumstances after rewriting their wills, giving all their mo ...more
Jan 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Clif Brittain
Jan 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Giselle Bradley
2.5 Stars
Overall I'm pretty sad about this book. There were elements that I thought were going to be explained as part of the mystery that weren't. Although I did find this story more engaging than the first as far as the mystery went I didn't enjoy it as much. The first captured me with the platonic relationship between Mary and Sherlock and his mentoring her. This one didn't have that at all. Although I did enjoy getting to spend time with Mary and her developing character in this book I was
Jenn Estepp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul  Perry
The second of Laurie King’s Mary Russell books returns to her heroine as she graduates from Oxford. In London she encounters an old friend from earlier in university who is involved with the a church whose leader is a charismatic feminist. But is all as it seems?

There are many things I like about this book. The writing is excellent, and the post-WW1 British English *almost* spot on (there are a couple of slips, but nothing that made me shudder - the occasional “out the window” sort of thing). Wh
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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
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! ...more
Lou Kemp
Oct 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'd read this years ago and enjoyed it. But, my highest concern then was what happened to 'The Green Man," the character who was a character in all definitions of the word.
He was not only lovable, but the reader could identify with him and feel his pain and joys. His happiness could reform a cynic. I wrote to the author, and asked if The Green Man would return or was he gone. She responded that he would be back.
In this effort, I had no problem with the May-December romance X's 5, because Mary
Jamie Collins
3.5 stars. I’ve been putting this one off because of the mixed reviews, but I liked it, and I’ve already ordered the next book in the series. The setting is great, and King’s writing is more than strong enough to overcome some plot weaknesses.

This has a great and suitable title, and I loved the anti-feminist quotes at the beginning of each chapter, everything from St. Paul’s "Women should keep silent in church" to Shakespeare’s "Thy husband is thy lord".

It takes place in 1921 just as Mary is obt
Rena Sherwood
Sherlock Holmes wants to bang an obnoxious 15 year old? No thanks!


Laurie King hasn't done Sherlock Holmes fans any favors with not only this book, but the whole inexplicably popular series. There's just no accounting for taste.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this particular book that go nowhere. And some bits are just pointless. Mary doing a back flip off the top of a hansom cab JUST because Holmes says something borderline obnoxious. What the hell with a back flip? Just jump off. No nee
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
Mary is the focus of this story and I enjoyed it. There is an element of humor in the story that I really liked. The theology background and information was very interesting to me too.

I care about Sherlock Holmes and I am not put off by the author's treatment of him. It is a bit different to read him as a secondary character, so I have to keep reminding myself when he is not present.

Jenny Sterlin gave an honest performance as the voice of Mary, but I will prefer to read the text accounts in fu
Mar 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't love this one, after falling hard for the Beekeeper's Apprentice. I was disappointed by the supporting actress (Margery), the shallow mystery, and the cheap romance. The theology and the "miracle" shoehorned in was eye-rolling. Likewise with the upcropping gallantry of Holmes. This does not bode well.
What was amusing was the sniping at Sir A.C.Doyle's real-life "spiritualism" - meta!
Full review @ Smoke & Mirrors: A fantastic read! This series...just love it! Can't wait to read the third installment! Twists and turns, some not-so-surprising and others very surprising!! ...more
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying plot with very interesting research on the Bible and feminism.
Jan 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
Solid second installment. As an aspiring mystery author who's currently studying theology, I find King's path from theologian to author fascinating. What's also interesting is that a lot of quotes she uses at the beginning of her chapters are from a theologian I studied last semester. I'd like to pull out the quotes in their original context to see what Chrysostom was originally trying to say, because the ones King used had concerning implications for the biblical status of women.

Other Sherlock
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this up at an opportunity shop.

I'm glad I did as it was a fun read.

Mary Russell is an interesting character. Sherlock Holmes is present, but much more in the background.

The plot involves suffrage, a female mystic, and a series of unexplained deaths. All good fun, even if the villain is a little stereotypical. But this is only the second book of the series, so I am assuming the bad guys get a little more subtle as time goes on.

Highly recommended.
Toria (some what in hiatus)
Not what I thought it would be and didn't know it was part of a series when I started it. Some parts of this was quite good but for the most part it wasn't mh kind of book but I thought the audiobook of this was well done and I got a sense that the book itself was well written. But not my cup of tea ...more
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I preferred book 1 but still very enjoyable!
Jan 23, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in Laurie R. King's series. (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes) Mary Russell, a young woman who is the apprentice of Sherlock Holmes, is a student at Oxford getting ready to defend her thesis, and a student of Sherlock Holmes in her spare time. The theme centers around religion and the place of women in society. A smoothly magnetic woman preacher has established a Temple to do good works for downtrodden women in London, and to give capable and intelligent women who worked ...more
Thomas Ray
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: trivia, laurie-r-king
Good stories, and there are lots.

Here's what the author says about herself:
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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 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshi

Other books in the series

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #3)
  • The Moor (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #4)
  • O Jerusalem (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #5)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #6)
  • The Game (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #7)
  • Locked Rooms (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #8)
  • The Language of Bees (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #9)
  • The God of the Hive (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #10)
  • Pirate King (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #11)

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16 likes · 47 comments
“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.”
“Interpreting the Bible without training is a bit like finding a specific address in a foreign city with neither map nor knowledge of the language. You might stumble upon the right answer, but in the meantime you've put yourself at the mercy of every ignoramus in town, with no way of telling the savant from the fool.” 7 likes
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