Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer's Dreaming Spies

By Michelle Ule

I stumbled on Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King recently when the cover caught my eye.

(Doesn't it always happen like that?)

 The cover pictured a young woman wearing a cloche hat gazing over the spires of Oxford with the Bodleian Library's distinctive dome.

 Since I had just started writing a chapter set in 1920s Oxford, I picked up the novel thinking I might find some insight or description of that dreamy place long ago.

 I was wrong.

 But very right.

 While Dreaming Spies starts in Oxford, it quickly dashes off to India and catches a cruise on a luxury steamship to Japan circa 1923.

 For those familiar with Laurie King's extensive series, you'll not be surprised to learn it stars the intrepid Mary Russell and her aging yet spry and wiley husband THE Sherlock Holmes.

(I'd read the first book in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, long ago and enjoyed it so much I bought a copy for my Sherlock Holmes-loving daughter.

 Unfortunately, I've not kept up, but mean to on these long languid and warm days of a Northern California summer. To think, 18 more books await me!)

Dreaming Spies

I'm not a mystery fan per se, but this book pulled me into the story right away.

 Told from the first person by a clever young woman who is having trouble living up to her even more clever husband's detecting abilities,

Mary actually is looking for a rest on the trip.

 Yet, that's not what happens as her brain clicks into overload, noticing odd events and a nearly paranormal and strong Japanese woman.

 Martial arts, along with marital arts, soon come into play and the reader is plunged into a story very different from the norm.

 While I've spent a day in Tokyo, I know next to nothing about Japan, and when Mary and Holmes hike through the countryside following a mysterious trail, early twentieth century Japan is revealed to be a lovely country of simple harmony and exacting beauty.

I loved learning about the Hermit Kingdom when it really felt like a closed country.

 The mystery seems to center on a missing book--or does it?

By the end, the 1923 Bodleian Library helps solve the riddle!

Mary learns a little more about marriage.

The Japanese woman dazzles often.

 And Holmes?

 He remains the same--doesn't he?

 Well worth reading, savoring and if you can figure out who did it, well, why not?

My Goodreads  Review:

I'm not a particular mystery fan and have never read anything by Arthur Conan Doyle, but I thoroughly enjoyed this lengthy and detailed story.
Sherlock Holmes and his much younger wife Mary Russell traveled the world unexpectedly caught unraveling a mystery for Crown Prince Hirohito of Japan while in the company of a female ninja!
It worked!
Along the way, I got to remember a sparkling day in Tokyo and a much different afternoon at the Bodleian Library, thanks to Laurie King's excellent writing and attention to detail.
Five stars for sure, the best book I've read in 2016.
  New York Times best selling author Michelle Ule is currently writing a biography of Mrs. Oswald
Chambers (Baker Books Fall 2017) and is the author of a number of novellas. Her most recent novella can be found at the end of The 12 Brides of Summer. Read more about her at  


Sherlock Holmes, wife, Japan and a missing book! Click to Tweet

Dreaming Spies: Sherlock Holmes and Mrs solve a summer mystery. Click to Tweet