Book Review: “Pirate King”

Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Laurie R. King
originally published: December 2011
finished: 6 January 2012
cost*: $25.05 – borrowed from a friend


I will admit to being something of an Anglophile. I do love the British and their unique way of seeing things. Except…I emphatically do not love Gilbert and Sullivan. Never understood the attraction, don’t understand what people see the plays/operettas. I suspect the mashup of all that singing and all that duty are just too much for me. That said, the first half of this book focuses on The Pirates of Penzance. This is a book about making a movie about the making of a play within a play. Confused? Me too. 


There are too many people for me to keep track of: fourteen daughters of the Pirate King, thirteen pirates to match up with them, a translator who has multiple, poetical personalities, mothers, chaperones, and an anarchist parrot. There’s also a weird subplot where Mary Russell is trying to outguess Mycroft Holmes and goes from one extreme to the other trying to figure out what he wants her to do so she can do the opposite…which is exactly what he wants her to do. Confused? Me too.


By the second half of the book (which is, incidentally, when Holmes finally shows up) I understood enough to be able to figure out which characters are who. The tone of the book changes and becomes more of a mystery rather than a catalogue of Russell’s daily activities.


I love Mary Russell and will read these books until Laurie R. King stops writing them. It is not my favorite, but I suspect my feelings toward it might mellow with time and distance from G&S.




*I have taken the free book challenge this year. I will be reading from my personal library, borrowing from the actual library (or libraries of friends), reading free ebooks (classics), or using up gift cards. My goal is 65 books this year. (Last year I read 67.)

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