I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, and the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King is easily my favorite expansions of the canon. From the very first book, 1994's The Beekeeper's Apprentice, I have been generally pleased with these novels. And the 14th in the series is another fine entry in the series.
Mary Russell has been neglecting her family business in America, so she and her husband Sherlock Holmes so they decide to head to the American West Coast via Southern Japan. They board a steamer, not advertising their presence, so as to enjoy this respite from the mysteries and danger that dog them at every turn.
Of course, things do not go according to plan. For one thing, Holmes immediately recognizes a noted blackmailer, and begins a quiet investigation. Meanwhile, Russell befriends a small, lithe Japanese woman who may not be quite what she seems. The couple never makes it to America.
The Japanese portion of their journey lasts longer than expected, as Holmes and Russell come under the employ of the future Japanese emperor, Hirohito. The issue is a document hidden in a book that he gave to the English as a gift. The blackmailer from the ship is involved, as is a world-class forger. And there's a family of ninja.
The twists and turns of the plot keep the story moving at a brisk pace, and describing the exotic locales is a strength of King’s writing. And by this point, King knows the characters of Holmes and Russell very well, and although this Holmes is clearly King’s creation, he is a realistic extrapolation of Doyle’s character.
I am also a fan of the other “world’s greatest detective,” Batman. I prefer stories where Batman is not invincible, where he can be tricked, where he can be (at least temporarily) defeated. This is a classic element of the Holmes canon, and King creates a new character for this novel who can hold their own against Holmes. And maybe even against Mary Russell herself.
Source: public library