O Jerusalem Mass Market Paperback – Jun 6 2000
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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
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
That said, "Jerusalem" is not necessarily the sequel to the previous work ("The Moor") in the way that "The Moor" was the sequel to "A Letter of Mary".
As fans of the series will recall, during "Beekeeper" Holmes and Russell were forced to leave England for a time under threat of their lives. Choosing to do something productive during their enforced absence, the duo are referred to as having done some work for Holmes' brother - the inimitable Mycroft Holmes - in Palestine. "Beekeeper" does not contain any more of this interesting episode, however King promised that it would be written. "O Jerusalem" is that episode.
As a result, the reader needs to remember that Mary Russell is now 19 again and most decidedly not married to Holmes. While there are certain overtones in the book implying that it was in Palestine that Russell realised whatever feelings she had for her partner-in-sleuthing, King does not dwell on any romantic implications.
The scene is Palestine at the end of the First World War. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire from within has resulted in the attempts by many of its former constituent parts to declare independence. In all of this, Palestine is governed by General Robert Allenby and his officers.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Never been drawn to Jerusalem until I read this book. Laurie King has a way with words that makes you feel like you are there with her characters.Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
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.Published on Sept. 28 2009 by P. Palmer
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... Read morePublished on May 31 2009 by Amazon Customer
O'Jerusalem by LAUIRE R.King Is a personal accounts of Sherlock Homels case written by his young partner Mary Russell. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2004
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 morePublished on July 31 2003 by Mark Savary
Great cast of characters, wonderful history, and the scenery comes alive before your eyes. I recommend this book!Published on July 12 2003 by Avid reader