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Pirate King

(Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #11)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  8,436 ratings  ·  1,135 reviews
In England's budding silent-film industry, megalomaniac Randolph Fflytte is king. At the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities. At Lisbon rehearsals for "Pirate King", based on Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance", thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses meet the real buccaneers Fflytte has recruite ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (US/CAN), 300 pages
Published 2011 by Bantam Books
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  8,436 ratings  ·  1,135 reviews

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Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: purchased at indie bookstore (author event, signed).

I am a big fan of King's Mary Russell series, but Pirate King will not number among my favorites. King has stated that she agreed to write this book (under, I assume, the usual publisher pressure to keep churning on) with the proviso that she would go back to the light-hearted feel of the early Russell books. I would actually say that she went beyond her remit and came up with something that is so much more light-hearted t
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, kindle

As a long-time reader of crime fiction, I like Laurie R King's writing a lot. It's distinguished by excellent research, intelligent prose and interesting characterisation. However, this episode in the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series is disappointing.

The series, which is set in the 1920s, is presented as the memoir of a young Oxford University educated woman who marries the "real" Sherlock Holmes, a man many years her senior. Holmes is real, you see, even though for most of his life people
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
For over 10 years, I've enjoyed reading King's novels because of her incredible dedication to research, unfailing ear for dialogue and fantastic use of detail. However, in this book, the most recent in her Mary Russell series, all three of those staples are missing. Even for a series that posits that Holmes is some 10 years younger than generally accepted and married to a woman half his age, this addition strains credulity. Set in the mid-1920s on the moving set of a silent film about pirates, M ...more
Christine PNW
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've literally never been able to make it through this book before, even though I love this series. There was something about it that give me a total mental block.

I finally broke the back of it with the audiobook. It exceeded my expectations, but my expectations were so low that this is not particularly a compliment. I was mostly bored, and I found the basic story line silly. It's likely that this will remain the low point of the series for me, and I will likely skip it during rereads.

Anyway, I'
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure why but something about musical theatre pleases me. And when you throw some Gilbert & Sullivan into the mix it should be evident that I will want to read it and will no doubt enjoy it, and this latest release from Laurie R. King is no exception.

The story is brilliantly composed. There are small intricacies within the tale that suck you in, so much so that I found myself wanting to wield a cutlass and go swashbuckling.
Unlike a few of the previous books in the Russell series, the Holm
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: laurie-king, 2011, 2020
And now for something completely different!! To be honest, I was quite prepared to be disappointed in this unlikely foray by Mary Russell. I mean, pirates? really?? give me a break! I'm not quite sure what I expected this novel to be, but I was thoroughly entertained by what it turned out to be. I'm not going to reveal any spoilers (most of you will just have to wait 'til September!) but I have to hand it to Laurie; in other hands this story could have quickly gone south but Ms. King used her ab ...more
Caidyn (he/him/his)
CW: kidnapping

Compared to the last two installments of this series, this was a lighthearted book. Mary finds out that Sherlock's brother is coming to stay with them for a prolonged period of time, which sounds like her personal nightmare. So instead of staying for that, she decides to pick up a case and go infiltrate a film set. Which then turns into much more.

I really loved the change from the darkness to this lighthearted book. From skimming reviews, that also seems to be a detractor. But I re
Aug 04, 2011 rated it did not like it

Mary Russell agrees to go undercover for Scotland Yard rather than spend time in the same house with Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, after he announces he’s coming for a visit. Her assignment is as an assistant to the assistant to Randolph Fflytte, the leading producer of silent films in England. There have been rumors of criminal activities within Fflytte’s inner circle and Russell must find what they are and who’s involved. Fflytte is about to begin filming “Pirate King,” a film about filming Gil
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to download this...and so let down as the book plodded on...and on...and on...with no hint of a mystery in sight.

Really, some sort of mystery should be present before the book is mostly over.

Perhaps some readers might be amused at Mary Russell being surrounded by a gaggle of mindless actresses, egotistical directors, and various other insipid personae surrounding a motion picture. I found it probably as trying as Mary Russell to be constantly sorting through the 13 female actres
Dec 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Investigating possible evildoers while filming a silent movie about a movie about a comic opera. It should have been a farce. But in Laurie R. King's The Pirate King, it's Holmes and Russell, so it's an absolutely marvelous froth instead.

Mary Russell does not particularly want to spend a fortnight (that's two weeks to us Americans) cooped up in Sussex with her brother-in-law Mycroft. In their last meeting (The God of the Hive) Russell discovered that some of Mycroft's actions on the part of the
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was a mess. I understand that it is the latest of a long series of novels, all with the premise of having been penned by Sherlock Holmes' wife, Mary Russell. This falls so short of anything aspiring to a Holmes mystery. Anachronisms! Sloppiness! Awkward and just plain silly plot. I was embarrassed for the author as I was reading along, hoping that some brilliant stroke would calm my fears and make the time spent worthwhile. It never came about, and loose strings were so abruptly and ca ...more
Imagine Mary and Sherlock caught up with a film company making a movie of people making a movie of The Pirates of Penzance. With 13 Major General's daughters and real pirates. Lots of fun if you're a G&S fan. I have no idea how it plays if you're not. :)

"With cat-like tread upon our prey we steal..." If that line doesn't make you smile this may not be the book for you. If it does, prepare to have some fun.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Weakest in the series, alas.

For a further review: .
Emily Childress-Campbell
I don't know if it's just me, but I have a certain devotion toward authors I started reading at a young age. Right about the time I started venturing out of the juvenile and young adult sections of the library I was about fourteen, and I will always be doomed to give the benefit of the doubt to these first "adult" authors that captivated me.

"Why do you choose the word 'doomed'?" you may ask. My answer to that question is Laurie R. King's new novel Pirate King. Before I enumerate all the reasons
Those who believe that a series gets weaker the longer it goes on have not read Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books. This is the eleventh title in the series, and while it may not be the best of the bunch, it certainly ranks in the top three or four.

Russell/Holmes aficionados will know that Mary does not feel kindly towards her brother-in-law Mycroft. (Something about him being manipulative...?) So, when her husband tells her that his brother will be coming to stay for a few wee
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mary Russell and her husband Sherlock Holmes have just returned from a heart-wrenching case when Mary discovers that Mycroft intends to park himself with them for some time while he has the builders in. This prompts her to accept a case from Lestrade, investigating a film company that seems to have a shady side. From the moment she joins the company as assistant to one of the producers, Mary's life is turned upside down with constant chaos. The company, known always for shooting on location, is ...more
So this is Laurie R. King writing a book about fictional Mary Russell who has written another memoir of an adventure with Sherlock Holmes, this one about the time she went undercover as an assistant to a crew making a silent movie about a crew making a movie about The Pirates of Penzance.

By all rights, you should need to diagram out the layers of narrative and meta narrative, but you don’t. As usual, King passes but lightly over these points, and in fact pauses briefly to make fun of critical r

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Russell is called to go undercover to Lisbon and then Morocco as a director's assistant of the silent movie based on The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan. Her job is to investigate strange troubles wit the team and the disappearance of the last assistant's director.

This idea is not so original since François Truffaut wrote and directed his famous movie "La nuit américaine" in 197
M Christopher
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
It's been awhile since I've been so disappointed in a book. Connie and I have become great fans of Laurie King's series of books about Mary Russell, the young woman who becomes Sherlock Holmes' apprentice and then his wife. Overall, the series is clever, well-written, and a true homage to the great stories of Arthur Conan Doyle.

But "Pirate King" falls flat. I think the reason is that Ms. King tries too hard to match her style and plot points to the central conceit of the story. Russell and Holme
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, mystery, girl-power
After several dark, intense cases, Russell and Holmes find themselves undercover on a silent film production featuring a bevy of blonde actresses and a group of real-life pirates. Much bemusement ensues. It's fun change of pace in the series--humorous, but still smart and thoughtful. ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A book that buckles its swash, or swashes its buckle; whichever. The plot is a bit silly - and comes with a disclaimer - but worth the read for King fans, Holmes fans, or pirate fans.
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pirates, 2019
If you like Sherlock Holmes and enjoy a case to solve; or if you enjoy anything pirate related or the Pirates of Penzance play, then this is the book for you!

I enjoyed the subtleties of the case and how two inquiries were going on at the same time. Another great aspect of the novel was how the filming of a film crew filming a farce about the Pirates of Penznace where they run into real pirates turned out to be a reality. It was a great play within a play or in this case a film within a film with
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Not my favorite of Laurie’s stories.
Thomas Ray
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one, #11, Pirate King, has quite a bit of humor--inspired, as it is, by Gilbert and Sullivan. Others have been inspired by Rudyard Kipling, Dashiell Hammett, Lawrence of Arabia, old English mythology, and always Arthur Conan Doyle. Always something new. Always entertaining.

Sherlock Holmes with his new partner, Mary Russell. Good stories. Likeable characters. Set in many and varied physical, social, religious, linguistic, and literary environments. Many books in the series, and the stories k
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
TL;DR - Worth reading if you can't get enough of Russell, but you can skip the book and not miss anything important

The writing is excellent, and once more Laurie King transports us into another time and world, evoking sights, smells, and sounds. She provides background information with a deft hand, setting the era and outlining the politics and social constraints that drive and shape the characters without the dreaded info-dump syndrome. That said, Russell and Holmes do not mature nor develop in
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
For those who enjoyed the original Sherlock Holmes novels, the novels penned by Laurie King are a bit different. They imagine Holmes as a senior citizen and married to a much younger Mary Russell, the narrator of the story. This is book eleven in the series. While each stands alone, they are much better if read in series. This latest story begins as Holmes and Russell are recovering from their laast adventure. Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard requests them to undertake an undercover assignmen ...more
Heather Clawson
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
While I really like King's writing style, I'm completely puzzled as to why she felt the need to insert the character of Mary Russell into the world of Sherlock Holmes. I can totally see Mary Russell in her own world and doing just fine. Tying her to Holmes confuses me because I keep expecting serious bouts of deductive reasoning and feats of intuition that border on the mystical (until they're explained of course!) In short, I expect more of an original Holmes feel, with a new perspective brough ...more
I looked forward to this book for months, since I am a huge fan of the series. Mary Russell is the wife of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes and the previous ten books developed their story from their early friendship with Holmes as a mentor to the young Mary Russell, to their working partnership, to their marriage and travels around the world.

This book was such a disappointment. The first 75% of it was straight up convoluted and boring. And worst of all, there was almost nothing about Sh
I really struggled with the star rating on this one. In the end, I went with 3 stars, as it denotes "I liked it." Pirate King missed the mark with me, although being in one of my favorite series, it certainly had elements that I enjoyed. King's wit still shines through, and her knowledge of places and history is intact. I would guess if it was one problem that defines my lower rating, it would be the absence of Sherlock Holmes in the majority of the book. Mary Russell is a brilliant character, b ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Mary Russell goes undercover in this adventure. After a pattern of criminal behavior seems to be connected to a film company, she is asked by Scotland Yard to investigate. While the director goes about creating a film about a film about The Pirates of Penzance, Russell is pursuing leads. The novel drags a bit for the first half, until Sherlock enters the picture, literally. The situation rapidly becomes desperate, and both Russell and Sherlock must use their wits to resolve it. While the charact ...more
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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 17 books)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #2)
  • 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, #6)
  • The Game (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #7)
  • Locked Rooms (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, #8)
  • The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)
  • The God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)

Articles featuring this book

Her Favorite Female Detectives: Shrewd women who can crack any case populate this list of recs from the writer behind the historical mystery Pirate...
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“Why the devil was my husband positively grinning - and with what looked remarkably like relief?” 5 likes


-- Pirate King, chapter 9
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