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The Game [Hardcover]

Laurie R. King
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 2 2004 Mary Russell Novels
Laurie R. King’s bestselling mystery series featuring Mary Russell and her husband and partner, Sherlock Holmes, is beloved by readers and acclaimed by critics the world over. Now the illustrious duo returns for their most dangerous exploit yet, in a rich and atmospheric tale that takes them to India to save the life of one of literature’s most fabled heroes.

It’s the second day of the new year, 1924, and Mary Russell is settling in for a much-needed rest with her husband, Sherlock Holmes. But the fragile peace will be fleeting—for a visit with Holmes’s gravely ill brother, Mycroft, brings news of an intrigue that is sure to halt their respite. Mycroft, who has ties to the highest levels of the government, has just received a strange package. The oilskin-wrapped packet contains the papers of a missing English spy named Kimball O’Hara—indeed, the same Kimball who served as the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famed Kim.
An orphaned English boy turned loose in India, Kim long used his cunning to spy for the Crown. But after inexplicably withdrawing from the “Great Game” of border espionage, he’s gone missing and is feared taken hostage—or even killed.

When Russell learns of Holmes’s own secret friendship with Kim some thirty years before, she knows the die is cast: she will accompany her husband to India to search for the missing operative. But even before they arrive, danger will show its face in everything from a suspicious passenger on board their steamer to an “accident” that very nearly claims their lives. Once in India, Russell and Holmes must travel incognito—no small task for the English lady and her lanky companion. But after a twist of fate forces the couple to part ways, Russell learns that in this faraway place it’s often impossible to tell friend from foe—and that some games must be played out until their deadly end.

Showcasing King’s masterful plotting and skill at making history leap from the page, The Game brings alive an India fraught with unrest and poised for change—and an unpredictable mystery with brilliance and character to match.

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From Publishers Weekly

The seventh Mary Russell adventure (after 2002's Justice Hall) may well be the best King has yet devised for her strong-willed heroine. It's 1924, and Kimball O'Hara, the "Kim" of the famous Rudyard Kipling novel, has disappeared. Fearing some kind of geopolitical crisis in the making, Mycroft Holmes sends his brother and Mary to India to uncover what happened. En route, they encounter the insufferable Tom Goodheart—a wealthy young American who has embraced Communism—traveling with his mother and sister to visit his maharaja friend, Jumalpandra ("Jimmy"), an impossibly rich and charming ruler of the (fictional) Indian state of Khanpur. With some local intelligence supplied by Geoffrey Nesbit, an Englishman of the old school, and accompanied by Bindra, a resourceful orphan, the couple travel incognito as native magicians (Mary, it goes without saying, learns Hindi on the voyage out). Ultimately, their journey intersects with the paths of the Goodhearts and the mysterious Jimmy. At times, travelogue and cultural history trump plot, but the sights, smells and ideas of India make interesting, evocative reading (Mary's foray into the dangerous sport of pig-sticking is particularly fascinating). If for some Mary Russell is too perfect a character to be as enduringly compelling as Holmes, all readers will appreciate the grace and intelligence of King's writing in this exotic masala of a book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Once apprentice, now investigator, Mary Russell travels to India in 1925 with her former mentor, now husband, Sherlock Holmes. In this seventh adventure, the duo is searching for Kimball O'Hara, the Kim of Rudyard Kipling's eponymous novel. On a mission from Sherlock's brother Mycroft, long involved in British espionage, they are tasked with finding Kim or evidence of his status as victim or traitor. Sailing to India on a luxury liner, they meet an American family with a debutante daughter, a social-climbing mother, and a left-leaning son, who of course reappear at a strategic moment. Upon their arrival, Mary and Sherlock disguise themselves as native traveling magicians and seek out an anti-English and very sadistic maharaja, "Jimmy." With her usual thorough research, King imbues the mystery with lots of historical detail and a real sense of time and place. This is one of the best in the series and can easily be read on its own, though readers will then want to go back and see how the strange, but surprisingly plausible, meeting and union between a young Mary and a considerably older Holmes actually occurs. Likewise, a previous reading of Kim is unnecessary, but teens will likely be intrigued enough to go on to read that as well. A sure bet for mystery lovers and historical fiction fans.–Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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4.0 out of 5 stars The Game April 21 2004
As is often the case, Mycroft Holmes, who is ill and abed, turns to his detective brother to do what the entire British Secret Service cannot, track down Kimball O'Hara, who has disappeared into India. Of course, Kimball, who is the original for Rudyard Kipling's Kim, has always been disappeared into India. He has been a British agent, worked for the betterment of his adopted country of India, and been something of a mystic. He is often missing, but this time Mycroft is convinced that there has been foul play.
Holmes is selected because he spent time in India during his own great disappearance, has met O'Hara, and, I suspect, because his wife is Mary Russell. Mary is every bit Holmes equal, and in some ways his better. First as a team, and then separately, they adventure to Northern India and the Principality of Khanpur, where they must face corruption, insanity, and sedition in an adventure that becomes quite a bit more than a rescue mission.
King does her usual best to mix plenty of fact into her fiction, so that 'The Game' becomes a travelogue and a sociological record in addition to an adventure. There is less deduction in this novel than in some of her other Russell/Holmes stories. Due mostly to the fact that the clues always lead in one direction and the real excitement becomes the tricks, feats, and disguises that enable the team to survive and conquer. King also excels at developing a supporting cast, and as one might expect from a book set in India, that cast is almost numberless.
My only real criticism is that the story is very slow paced. Indeed, it is timed more like a travel diary than an adventure novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Addition to the Mary Russell Series July 13 2004
By A Customer
The Game offers a new setting (India) with the typical well researched backdrop and fun, interesting new characters that characterize Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series. Very satisyfing. The entire series is well written and engaging.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Richly detailed but lopsided June 28 2004
This is an improvement over the previous "Justice Hall," but it's still a disappointment compared to the first couple of King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes stories. It almost reads like two different authors wrote the first 80% and final 20% of the book respectively. The front 80% groans under the weight of enervatingly lavish, detailed descriptions of places, events, and politics in India: nothing much happens, and we get introduced to some amusing characters whom you know Will Assume Unexpected Importance Later. This part of the book is impressive in terms of the research that must have gone into it, but for those who like *mysteries*, it's a long slog, very much like "Justice Hall."
In the second part of the book, after Russell and Holmes meet up again in the context of the Maharajah's castle, plot details get neatly resolved with the same handiness and speediness with which the action suddenly moves along. Too many coincidences here, and too many telling details from earlier in the book unresolved. Do we suspect a rush job on the ending to meet a publication schedule?
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4.0 out of 5 stars another good effort May 29 2004
I liked this book very much. The details of life in a prince's palace were fascinating, particularly the pig sticking. The book moves right along for one so richly detailed. I enjoyed the first portion somwhat more than the end; I had the feeling it was wrapped up to fit into a specific page count and could have been much more detailed; a slightly too "pat" resolution. However, several story lines were left unfinished and I look forward to seeing them carried forward in the next intallment. I recommend this book, but would start as a new reader of Laurie King with the Beekeeper's Apprentice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Hike For The Mind May 25 2004
While "A Beekeeper's Apprentice" remains my favorite of this series, this book is just a pleasure to read. History, adventure, mystery, and just plain fun.
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5.0 out of 5 stars She's done it again! May 18 2004
Thank you Laurie King! I wish I could erase my memory and read it again immediately! Perhaps reading Kim instead will help me get by until the next installment. Please don't keep us waiting long.
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5.0 out of 5 stars King Once Again Proves She Is Royalty May 16 2004
Laurie King has created a marvelous mystery series featuring Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. King's plots are tightly constructed and intricate, her characters vivid and true to the lore of the original Holmes, and her mastery of the English language compels me to say that her books are well worth their price. A statement not often true - since book store shelves are currently weighted down with so many trite, bland, predictable books.
I feel that I should also mention King's mastery of location. King has done her homework and gives riveting and exquisite detail to each setting in the series. Whether you find yourself nestled within a cozy cottage sipping tea; shivering from the chill tramping through the morning mist on the moor; struggling through a crowded bazaar assaulted by a cacophany of street vendor cries and the aromatic scents of spices for sale; awakening to the swish of camels' feet and the creak of leather against wood leaving the Bedouin camp; being charmed by the tingling of goat bells pulling carts down dusty lanes; or absorbed by the lushness and darkness of Kipling's India - you will never be disappointed or dismissive of each book's background.
In other words, King writes good solid entertaining literature. Not drivel.
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