Joyce Lagow's Reviews > O Jerusalem

O Jerusalem by Laurie R. King
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Apr 20, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery

Fifth in order of publication in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, the story line actually fits into the latter part of the debut novel in the series, The Beekeeper s Apprentice.[return][return]Holmes and the 19 year old Russell have fled for their lives from England to British-occupied Palestine, where in addition to buying time in order to deal with a lethal criminal genius, Holmes and Russell will also look into a little matter for Sherlock s brother, Mycroft, who holds a powerful but shadowy post for the British Empire in what would later be called Intelligence. The two land clandestinely on the shores of Palestine to be met by two Arabs, Bedu, who are in Mycroft s organization--basically, spies for the British. At first barely accepted by the Arabs--Mahmoud and his brother Ali--the two gain grudging acceptance, Russell disguising herself as an Arab youth, Holmes, in disguise, easily passing for an Arab since he is fluent (naturally) in Arabic. Following faint clues that only Holmes with his near-omniscience on every topic conceivable can unravel, they wind up in Jerusalem, where there are not one but two thrilling, page-turning climaxes, superbly written by King in her hallmark spare but evocative style.[return][return]King does an absolutely superb job of depicting post World War I Palestine--the aftermath of the brilliant military campaign led by Sir Edmund Allenby that drove the Turks from their 400 year occupation of Palestine and Syria. Holmes, Russell, Ali, and Mahmoud travel nearly the entire length and breadth of Palestine in search of a mysterious killer. As they do so, they visit early Jewish settlements, Arab villages, Christian monasteries, and the Dead Sea, among other places. King is superb in painting the local color of each, especially Jerusalem, where she is so evocative that you feel as if you are right there, amid the dust, the smells, the Arabs, Jews, Christians, British, the holiest places of three religions. [return][return]This is my favorite book in what I consider one of the best police procedural/mystery series still going. King continues to provide Holmes and Russell with distinct, thoroughly believable and engaging personalities, and does not limit her excellent characterizations to just those two; Mahmoud and Ali are perfect and Allenby, whom they meet, comes across as real and vivid. Places, people events--all are imbued with an authenticity that is rarely seen in a series that is as wide-ranging in locale as this one is.[return][return]And the last sentence in the book deserves a place of its own as one of the best I have ever read in any novel no matter what its genre. It is perfect for that story.[return][return]I can not recommend this book highly enough, although I would urge that it be read at the appropriate place in The Beekeeper s Apprentice for maximum enjoyment.[return][return]If I forget you, O Jerusalem,[return]may my right hand forget its skill.[return]May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth[return]if I do not remember you,[return]if I do not consider Jerusalem[return]my highest joy.[return][return][return]Psalm 137, Hebrew Testament
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