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O Jerusalem [Mass Market Paperback]

Laurie R. King
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 6 2000 Mary Russell Novels
With her bestselling mystery series featuring Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, Laurie R. King has created "lively adventure in the very best of intellectual company," according to The New York Times Book Review. Now the author of The Beekeeper's Apprentice and The Moor--the first writer since Patricia Cornwell to win both the American Edgar and British Creasey Awards for a debut novel (A Grave Talent)--unfolds a hitherto unknown chapter in the history of Russell's apprenticeship to the great detective.

At the close of the year 1918, forced to flee England's green and pleasant land, Russell and Holmes enter British-occupied Palestine under the auspices of Holmes' enigmatic brother, Mycroft.

"Gentlemen, we are at your service." Thus Holmes greets the two travel-grimed Arab figures who receive them in the orange groves fringing the Holy Land. Whatever role could the volatile Ali and the taciturn Mahmoud play in Mycroft's design for this land the British so recently wrested from the Turks? After passing a series of tests, Holmes and Russell learn their guides are engaged in a mission for His Majesty's Government, and disguise themselves as Bedouins--Russell as the beardless youth "Amir"--to join them in a stealthy reconnaissance through the dusty countryside.

A recent rash of murders seems unrelated to the growing tensions between Jew, Moslem, and Christian, yet Holmes is adamant that he must reconstruct the most recent one in the desert gully where it occurred. His singular findings will lead him and Russell through labyrinthine bazaars, verminous inns, cliff-hung monasteries--and into mortal danger. When her mentor's inquiries jeopardize his life, Russell fearlessly wields a pistol and even assays the arts of seduction to save him. Bruised and bloodied, the pair ascend to the jewellike city of Jerusalem, where they will at last meet their adversary, whose lust for savagery and power could reduce the city's most ancient and sacred place to rubble and ignite this tinderbox of a land....

Classically Holmesian yet enchantingly fresh, sinuously plotted, with colorful characters and a dazzling historic ambience, O Jerusalem sweeps readers ever onward in the thrill of the chase.


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Although O Jerusalem is Laurie King's fifth book in her Holmes-Russell series, it actually takes us back to the era of her first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Perhaps King was afraid that her characters, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, were becoming too cozy as an old married couple, and she wanted to recreate the edgy sexual tension of their first encounter.

It's 1918. Nineteen-year-old Mary and her fiftysomething mentor are forced to flee England to escape a deadly adversary. Sherlock's well-connected brother Mycroft sends them to Palestine to do some international sleuthing. Here, a series of murders threatens the fragile peace.

Laurie King connects us, through details of language, custom, history, and sensual impressions, to this very alien environment. Russell, Holmes, and two marvelously imagined Arab guides named Mahmoud and Ali trek through the desert and visit ancient monasteries clinging like anthills to cliffs. They also find time to take tea with the British military legend Allenby in Haifa and skulk through or under the streets of Jerusalem. King puts us into each scene so quickly and completely that her narrative flow never falters.

Stepping back in time also gives King a chance to show us Holmes through the eyes of a Russell not yet as full of love as a honeymooner, nor as complacent as a comfortable wife. "There it was--sardonic, superior, infuriating," Mary says about Holmes's voice at one point.

Wisdom is knowing when, and how much, to shake things up--even in a successful series. Laurie King is a wise woman indeed. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

O Jerusalem marks the fifth appearance of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (The Moor, LJ 12/97). This time around they have fled to Palestine on a mission for Mycroft Holmes. Disguised as itinerant Muslims and paired with two Arab spies, Russell and Holmes travel through the Holy Land trying to figure out exactly why Mycroft has sent them. A pair of seemingly unrelated murders sets them on the track of a brilliant and power-hungry killer. Only Holmes and Russell (along with some unexpected allies) can stop their adversary from destroying JerusalemAif they can get to him in time. King's clear prose and her vivid depiction of a British-occupied Palestine torn between opposing cultures are the book's main strengths. A bit slow at the start, the action gradually builds to a satisfying and dramatic conclusion. Strongly recommended for all public libraries.
-ALaurel Bliss, New Haven, CT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Sept. 28 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Laurie King has written another great book as a prequel to her Justice Hall novel. I get something new out of it every time I read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars first-rate character development May 31 2009
Format:Paperback
King's brilliant character development in 'O Jerusalem' is first-rate. Russell and Holmes are tested by their two shadowy companions, and not one of the four are happy with the arrangement. Holmes is rougher then I've know him to be in this previous Russell novels and all four evolve throughout the story in a very realistic and nature way in this dangerous "spy thriller".
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5.0 out of 5 stars O Jerusalem- Different but still great June 23 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I have been into the Mary Russell series for a few years, and this book has been one of my favorite books ever since. Although O Jerusalem has a slower pace than The Beekeeper's Apprentice, it still manages to capture the flavor of the Mary Russell series while incorperating a lot of the Middle Eastern culture. It begins with Mary and Holmes escaping from a deadly enemy back in England. Holmes' brother, Mycroft, suggests a few places for them to go, and they end up landing in Palestine. Their guides, Ali and Mahmoud, lead them through deserts, villages, and wadis as they look for the answer to the mystery. What started as a simple murder evolves into a complex mystery involving salt smugglers, bombs, and the famous Dome Rock. It (the mystery) is based on the precarious balence between the different religions living together in the Holy Land, each doubting the other.
What makes this book stand out is the amount of history and culture included, much more than The Beekeeper's Apprentice had. I would say Laurie King chose to focus more on the culture rather than the plot or character developement, because it seems to me that the plot is a bit difficult, and the character's personalities aren't as well described as in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. However, I believe that too is a part of how the Middle East is potrayed to the outside world- in other words, a bit mysteriously. In any case, I think this is one of the best books so far in the series, and it is definitely worth giving a try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best since The Beekeeper's Apprentice May 26 2004
By R. BULL
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The fifth book In Laurie King's Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series is, in my opinion, the best since the initial book. Holmes and Russell explore their relationship while escaping from danger in the first book and investigating for Mycroft. I found the background of Jerusalem after the first world war intriguing, and the interplay of cultures compelling. It is interesting that the author made references to this adventure in previously written books since this one takes place at and earlier time than some books (the same time as The Beekeeper's Apprentice.) I suspect that she had in mind that she would tell this story at some point. Perhaps the research took some time.
The testing that Russell and Holmes go through in this book make the changes in the characters when they return to London in the first book realistic. I admire the writing craft as true to the individual plot and true to the development of the characters during the series. I'd love to sit down and talk to the author about this book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven Holmes pastiche May 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Laurie King has written a number of these books now, with the main character a young girl who shows Sherlock Holmes how a woman can be just as effective as a man in a whole list of different ways. This is of course a very modern idea, and it's doubtful that the real Sherlock Holmes, written by the real Conan Doyle, would have espoused this view, but we give her the benefit of the doubt because the premise is fun.
Here, though, the premise isn't that fun. For mysterious reasons (apparently regarding the end of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, which I don't remember very well) Holmes and his young friend Mary Russell are thrown ashore in Palestine ca. 1919, courtesy of Sherlock Holmes' brother Mycroft. They immediately hook up with a couple of mysterious local Arabs, who guide them about the country aimlessly, after making clear how useless they think Holmes and Russell are. It takes several hundred pages before things actually get going.
The difficulty is that this really isn't a detective novel: instead, it's a spy novel, and a slow-moving one at that. It's 300 pages or so before the plot actually takes shape and we know what Holmes and Russell are looking for. It's slow and not very suspenseful, and it takes so long to get going that by the time it does, we don't care what's going on. I have to confess that while some of the characters were interesting, the plot was so moribund that I wasn't that impressed. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone other than Holmes fanatics.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
O'Jerusalem by LAUIRE R.King Is a personal accounts of Sherlock Homels case written by his young partner Mary Russell.The plot is interging,devloping over the course of the noverl.This as a result can be a little tiresome. Tet don't the descriptive nature of which King has prepaired for you.
I found the historical content to be quite interesting and how the two Protagonist lived in the Middle East.I also found the quotes at the beginning of the chapter to be words of wisdom that I may use today.I suggest that the leader should catch up on all of Sherlock Holmes adventures and possibly include some with Mary Russel.
The book is very unique and insightful about the famous inhabitant of 221B Bakerstreet.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Evocatively written, but difficult to get into
Laurie R King's "O Jerusalem" is another instalment in her series dealing with turn-of-the-century feminist Mary Russell's professional (and marriage) relationship to the... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by 3rdeadly3rd
2.0 out of 5 stars Desert story leaves the reader with a terrible thirst!
Despite the low rating I have offered on this book, I have to admit that I enjoyed a good deal of it thanks mostly to Ms. Read more
Published on July 31 2003 by Mark Savary
4.0 out of 5 stars vivid, imaginative, well worth reading
Great cast of characters, wonderful history, and the scenery comes alive before your eyes. I recommend this book!
Published on July 13 2003 by Avid reader
5.0 out of 5 stars I Don't Care What Others Say: I Loved It!
I don't understand why I've seen so many reviews that put this book down so horribly! I loved this story personally, rivalling it with "The Beekeeper's Apprentice. Read more
Published on June 4 2003 by "ali-alina"
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the Mary Russell series
I am never disappointed by Ms. King's Mary Russell series. It is a wonderful ride through early 20th Century history. And the mystery is always fun.
Published on March 14 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Read the Real thing,He's so much better than this tripe.
Just discovered this over the christmas holidays whilst looking for something to read. (small resort town with not much to choose from and I'd finished all I'd bought with... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2003 by Ross Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars King makes magic
There are only three authors who write historical mysteries that are so good I insist on buying all their books in hardback: Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, and Laurie King. Read more
Published on July 3 2002 by Mary Ellen Mynning
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