"Locked Rooms" is Laurie King's eighth Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes mystery, and it is one of her best. After spending time in India and Japan, Holmes and his young wife set sail for San Francisco, California in 1924. The ostensible reason for their visit is so that Mary can sign papers connected with the estate left by her parents, who died ten years earlier in a tragic car crash. However, Mary has an even more urgent motive for revisiting her childhood home. She has been having disturbing nightmares, and she would like to exorcise the emotional demons that have been tormenting her.
In the three years that she has been married, Mary has revealed few details about her childhood to her husband. Her past is a confusing and frightening maze that she has been extremely reluctant to navigate. Mary knows that her parents lived through the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, but why does she have no memory of being with them during that time? Why does she blame herself for the accident that took the lives of her mother, father, and younger brother? Finally, what is the significance of Mary's recurring dreams about flying objects, a faceless man, and a house with locked rooms to which only she has the key?
Laurie King's novel addresses these and other questions against the backdrop of one of the world's most scenic cities. The author's colorful and beautifully detailed descriptive writing brings Prohibition-era San Francisco to life, with its clanging cable cars, its wealthy mansions, and its breathtaking waterfront views. "Locked Rooms" is a multi-layered and richly textured novel. It is also a satisfying puzzle in which Russell uncovers some long buried family secrets and reexamines her assumptions about her parents' deaths. King provides a close look at the inner workings of the Holmes' unconventional marriage. In addition, "Locked Rooms" gives the reader a mini-history of the San Francisco earthquake, with a well-researched account of how this devastating event affected the city's traumatized residents.
Readers will enjoy the book's deliciously complex plot as well as the large and diverse cast of characters. Among them are Mary's childhood friend, Flo Greenfield, who has become a child of the jazz age, Tom Long, the son of the faithful Chinese couple who worked for Mary's parents, and the writer Dashiell Hammett, who helps Holmes with his sleuthing. King uses an unusual narrative device that presents a dual perspective, both through Mary's eyes and the very different eyes of her husband.
"Locked Rooms" has it all--an exotic locale, engrossing characters, fascinating historical background, and a suspenseful, well-told story. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell will be delighted and entertained by this solid entry in a very successful series.