Pirate King by Laurie King (thoughts)
As regular readers know, I adore the Mary Russell series written by Laurie King. Set in the early interwar period, and featuring a woman with enough talents, cleverness, and dry wit to make a partner for Sherlock Holmes, each book is overflowing with wonderful writing, spot-on characterisations, and vivid settings. Oh yes, and there’s usually a mystery too. ;) I’ve been slowly rereading the series (and finding that each book is even richer on the second go-round), and happily reading the new ones as they arrive. So I was thrilled to be contacted by King’s publicist and offered an advanced review copy (my mom was thrilled as well!) ofPirate King, the eleventh installment. I find it’s a rare author who can manage to make such a long series work, but Laurie King is definitely one of them. The previous two books in the series (Language of Bees and God of the Hive, which cover the same large story arc and are thus kind of sequels) packed a deep emotional punch. I suppose King decided that Russell and Holmes, not to mention the readers, needed a break, and so this book is much more lighthearted and humurous. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Russell finds herself undercover as a secretary to an independent silent film company shooting a new movie based on a metascript centered on a Gilbert and Sullivan pirate musical. The company is known for its commitment to authentic productions, and thus Russell travels to Portugal with a large cast and crew, where a comedy of errors begins to play out.
Now, I’m quite skeptical of humour in books; I often find an author’s attempts at jokes more hokey or corny than anything. So I hesitate to tell you just how funny this book is, because if you’re like me that might make you not want to read it. ;) Let me reassure you: the book is told in Russell’s voice, and her dry narrative strikes the perfect counterpoint to the hijinks that occur. Plus, it was the roaring twenties: I’m sure all sorts of craziness actually did occur! While there is a mystery, or at least a kind of suspense/thriller plot, at the core of the book, really this is all about playful, lighthearted fun. It was a treat to read, and I cannot wait to see where King takes the story next! If you’re already a fan, get your hands on this sooner rather than later. And if you’re looking for a smart, well-written, completely convincing and entertaining series with a strong woman character, do give these books a go. The first is The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, which is more episodic than the later ones, so do read at least the second, A Monstrous Regiment of Women before making up your mind. Of course, I’ve seen very few bloggers who haven’t fallen in love, but there’s always something nervewracking about recommending your very favourite books, isn’t there?! These books are dear to my readerly heart. Oh, and my mom loved this one (and the entire series) too! Perhaps I’ll convince her to do a guest post. ;)
Suggested Companion Reads
- Thus was Adonis Murdered by Sarah Caudwell (another mystery series with dry, sardonic humour)
- The Age of Dreaming by Nina Revoyr (also set in the silent film industry, in this case the American one)
- Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean by Edward Kritzler (I haven’t read this nonfiction book yet, but C.B.’s post put it on my wishlist! In case you end up craving more pirates, hehe.)