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

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  18,770 Ratings  ·  1,448 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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Avarill The order of publication can be found on Goodreads. If you look at the title of the book and click on "Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #2" you'll…moreThe order of publication can be found on Goodreads. If you look at the title of the book and click on "Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #2" you'll find a page that gives you the list.

Chronological order of the series is different. Not counting the short stories, it goes like this:
Beekeeper's Apprentice chapters 1-11
Oh Jerusalem (which is Beekeeper's chapter 12)
Beekeeper's Apprentice 13-end
Language of Bees part 1
Monstrous Regiment of Women, Letter of Mary, The Moor, Justice Hall, The Game...
Then, book 1 & 2 of Dreaming Spies
Locked Rooms, Language of Bees pt 2 - end, God of the Hive, Pirate King, Garment of Shadows...
Then Preamble & book 3 of Dreaming Spies, and finally The Murder of Mary Russell.(less)

Community Reviews

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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.
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
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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
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
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
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
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1901-1950, hist-myst
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
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
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!!
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.
Mar 31, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I preferred book 1 but still very enjoyable!
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
An Odd1
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
İlk kitaba göre daha yavan buldum. Gerçi yazış stilinden dolayı her şey daha da yavaş ilerliyor ama bu sefer aradığım heyecanı hemen hemen hiç bulamadım. Katili bile pek merak etmedim ki bu benim için baya ilginç. Mary ile sherlock un ilişkilerinin yönü değişiyor ve beğensem mi beğenmesem mi emin de olamadım. Belki üçüncüyü okuyunca tam olarak oturur yerine.
Stephanie Swint
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Olga Godim
Jun 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
Jenn Estepp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Jan 27, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
After immensely enjoy a debut novel of a series, like The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I’m always tentative about picking up the sequel fearing that it will pale in comparison. However, in this case, I needn’t worry; IMHO it was better.

No longer an apprentice but viewed as an assistant to Sherlock Holmes, Mary Russel is nearing her 21st birthday and emancipation. When an Oxford friend introduces Mary to the charismatic Margery Childe, leader of the New Temple of God, she is skeptical of her true inte
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every one of the Holmes/Russell books ends up making me hunt down supplemental reading. After re-reading this one, I now have to go find Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. Curse you, Mary Russell!

For me the story surrounding the mystery in this book is actually much more interesting than the mystery itself. The work that Margery Childe and her women are doing is intriguingly progressive, and Margery's "sermons" are remarkably inspiring
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was anticipating reading this book, right on the heels of the first in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice but I was also a little apprehensive. Would the characters appeal to me as much as they had previously? Would King be able to achieve the same level of intelligent writing she set for herself in the first book? Would the plot be intriguing and interesting enough to truly keep me wanting to read on in the series. Yes, yes, and yes!

For someone who often abhors new slants on old classics
I liked the first book but put off following it up because of the very mixed reviews for this one. Having reread BA, I eventually 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
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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 15 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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