This is a copy of my May 13, 2017 Goodreads review (Joan, from Stratford ON):
This book has quite a few critics, but it's actually one of my favourite books ever. True, this is in no way Laurie R. King's most captivating plot. The plot is really quite sleepy by comparison to some others. However, to me this book is a beautiful gem. The descriptions are thoughtful and rich. She paints the atmosphere of the moor and the surrounding area in a way that's not quite Tolkienesque, but elegant and intricate enough to remind me of Tolkien at times; she captures the local speech and music and social quirks masterfully -- she has an excellent eye and an superb ear.
Last but not least, the Russell-Holmes relationship is, as ever, wonderful to read. There's humour and maturity here -- two deeply connected people who respect one another profoundly and also give one another room to breathe.
I will read this book again someday -- it feels like a friend.
One minor critique that has nothing to do with the story itself -- Note to author: Sabine Baring-Gould was an Anglican, i.e. he was Protestant. No Protestant would refer to the Virgin Mary as "the mother of God."
Fourth in the Mary Russell series, The Moor is a return to the scene of The Hounds of the Baskerville where Holmes and Russell must solve another unusual crime with the perpetrators using the old case to cover new misdeeds.
King has a great ear for the local accent and readers get to see Holmes in discomfort to return to the scene of one of his most famous cases. With more room than a short story, King's description of Dartmoor is detailed and emotive. Historical figure Sabine Baring-Gould is one of King's signature moves of adding real touches that ground the story. While the case wasn't as much fun as the original, the growth of Russell and Holmes' relationship and the evocative writings about the moors saves The Moor.
This 4th book in the series continues the somewhat odd relationship between the young would-be theologian Mary Russell and Holmes the aging detective. It's a spin-off on the original "Hound of the Baskervilles" story but it captures little of the atmosphere of that story, set on and near the harsh landscape of Dartmoor. King also introduces a real person into this story, the eccentric Reverend Sabin Baring-Gould. While that perhaps adds authenticity, Gould remains essentially just a part of the landscape, contributing nothing of substance to the tale. Missing also is most of the clever, deductive reasoning that characterized Conan Doyle's version of Holmes.
For me, Mary Russell was most interesting in the first book and is becoming less so now.
I didn't enjoy this Mary Russell novel as much as the previous three books. I don't think the author should have tried to go back to territory already covered in the original stories. I felt like the atmosphere of the moor was more depressing than intriguing and the mystery is "find out why things seem strange around here" rather than something more concrete... plus it doesn't take too long to figure out that the mysterious sightings are most likely to draw attention away from a criminal enterprise. I felt like the book spent way too much time on the historical character Sabine Baring-Gould (without ever really explaining the friendship between Holmes and him), and not nearly enough time with Mary and Holmes together. I love this series, but I especially like the chemistry and partnership of Mary and Holmes.
Another competent entry in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, and quite possibly the best up to this time. This one has the moody atmospherics of the Dartmoor landscape, home of the Baskervilles, with intriguing references to folklore and local culture, and wonderful dialect. Mary is refreshing, fearless, and just testy enough to be human.
Surprisingly, this turned out to be one of my absolute favourites in the Mary Russell series. I was captivated, and the Moor felt all too real; I left as if I could reach out and touch the scenery. A five out of five for me!
BORING. Though I've enjoyed all the other LK books on Holmes/Russell, this is truly awful. I can't imagine what King was thinking to change her writing style, and to make Holmes into a completely different person than in her other novels. Give this one a pass.
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