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In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation - or sink a boatload of careers.
Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the 13 blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.
Pirate King is a Laurie King treasure chest—thrilling, intelligent, romantic, a swiftly unreeling masterpiece of suspense.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By chris on 10-01-11
Not my favorite Mary Russell
Pirate King is the 11th Mary Russell book by Laurie R. King. I still like Mary Russell, but this wasn't my favorite book of hers.
Recap: Mary and Holmes are caught up in another adventure as Mary infiltrates a silent film company to investigate allegations of illegal activity.
Review: I am a huge Mary Russell fan. She's independent, she speaks seven languages, and she can throw a knife. However, this book does not showcase her many talents. Pirate King is subtitled "a novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes." Unfortunately, there is a lack of suspense, little Holmes, and even Mary is missing for a stretch.
The movie industry is one of my least favorite settings. I've seen these stock characters and standard situations before. I was hoping in a Mary Russell book some people might buck their stereotypes. Maybe the director could be accommodating or the female lead humble. No such luck. Even Mary falls into standard cliches as she travels and doesn't listen when her translator warns her about cultural differences. Listen to your informants, Mary. You're better than this.
The sections with Holmes were excellent, as always. I would have liked to have more time with him and Mary together. It would be great if they could just be home to see their day to day interactions.
Reading: For me Jenny Sterlin is Mary Russell. Her voice takes some getting used to. It's a bit gravelly, and she makes Mary a little more sarcastic than I picture her, but the reading is so energetic I just get swept away. This story had a couple British pronunciations I liked. Shiek is pronounced "shake" and harem "har-eem." It's always fun to learn a new language.
Final thoughts: For anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes or strong women characters
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
By Debra J Pekin on 09-19-11
Well written descriptions of irrelevant story of an implied intrigue. Holmes doesn't even appear until 2/3 of the way through. Missing the essential Holmes-Russell story telling. Missing any sense of real intrigue until chapter 34 or so. Read all the other Mary Russell books but skip this one. A long way down from the emotional depth of the last 3 books. Humor lies flat because the story is so often full of pointless detail, I found myself not caring much about any of the characters or the plot. Nope, skip this one.
30 of 31 people found this review helpful