Hello my fellow bookworm, today I am bringing you my thoughts on The Game by Laurie R. King, the seventh Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, published in 2004. My last read from this series Justice Hall, which rounded out my April 2021 reading, is my favourite of the series so far, and so I was excited to pick this one up at the end of the year.
This new mystery begins on only the second day of 1924, when Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, find themselves making a dash in the snow to make an unexpected New Year’s visit to Holmes’s gravely ill, older brother Mycroft in his London apartments. However this is not just a normal, comforting social call, as it would be between regular siblings. Instead, ignoring his illness, Mycroft is more interested in sharing a strange, grimy oilskin package and a new intrigue.
The contents of this package is revealed to be the papers of an English spy named Kimball O’Hara – yes, that would the same Kimball made famous through Rudyard Kipling’s famed novella, Kim – who has inexplicably, withdrew from the “Great Game” of espionage and has now vanished off the face of the Earth. Leaving behind only this bundle of documents, carried out of India by Afghan traders, and a handful of colourful rumours as a clue to his last whereabouts and state of mind. 🤔
Mycroft fears this important British asset is taken hostage or worse has been killed, but when Russell learns of Holmes’s own secret friendship with the spy, the die is cast that they will embark together on a perilous journey through sun-drenched India in search of O’Hara. They set off immediately first by train across Europe, then book passage on a ship from the Mediterranean, mingling with the late season tourists to the exotic delights of the middle-east and India. 🛳
Along the way making new ‘friends’, adopting more wonderful disguises and picking up on tantalising gossip of the outlandish decadence of the filthy rich ruler of the northern territory of Khanpur and the dark rumours that circulate of what lies beneath his highly polished, Westernised façade. While I enjoyed the first half of their adventure together – particularly when everyone on their ship mistook Holmes for Mr Russell – I was most gripped by the second half when a twist of fate forces the couple to part ways.
That sees Russell setting off as a guest of the young, flighty Sunny Goodheart, and her family, to the palace of Khanpur: a place dripping with indulgence, excess and tension. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed into the heady smells, tastes and culture of this exotic land; where Russell learns that no one is who they seem and that some games are played for the highest stakes of all… But can she reunite with Holmes and discover O’Hara’s fate before the game’s deadly end?! 🛕
Overall, I thought The Game was a fun, interesting historical-mystery, which whisked me away from my busy-ness and illness of the Christmas holiday to the warmth and colour of India. It may not have quite lived up to the brilliance of the previous instalment, but still a very… Good read ⭐⭐
(I also counted this towards my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2021)
Have you read this? Or any of the other Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books? Please let me know in the comments below!