A Letter of Mary
Author: Laurie R King
Publish Date: 1996
Series: Mary Russel, book 3
Rating: C +
A Letter of Mary opens with Holmes and Mary enjoying a quiet day at home when archaeologist Dorothy Ruskin, an old friend, suddenly appears at their door. In England for a short time on business, Dorothy has stopped by primarily to give Mary an ancient manuscript that, if proven real, would cause a serious biblical ruckus. A few days later, Mary and Holmes receive word that Dorothy has died in a hit and run accident. Suspicious of the circumstances surrounding her death, Mary and Holmes set out on an investigation that leads them to believe Dorothy’s death was per-meditated murder. Soon the investigation leads to them going separate ways while they work undercover inspecting their two main suspects.
This installment was good, but definitely my least favorite out of the Mary Russell series so far. I find the stories that focus primarily on religion bore me. Since a major portion of this one’s plot revolved around an item with possible biblical roots, I ended up extremely bored at times. It also doesn’t help that Mary tends to nerd-out on religious theory.
Also, I wasn’t into the undercover bit of this plot. Mary’s work while incognito just seemed really… useless. I didn’t understand her fear of becoming too much like the person she was pretending to be. Mostly because the woman Mary was impersonating was so opposite to who she actually is, that I didn’t believe she would have a real fear of keeping herself separate. In addition, I couldn’t comprehend her attraction to the man she was investigating. It’s made clear that the person she was pretending to be would be attracted to him, but seriously? The guy was a misogynist douche and Mary noted being put-off by a lot of what he said and did, so I just didn’t get her turmoil. However, the resolution of Mary coming to terms with what she felt while undercover was nicely done.
The other issue I had with this book came from feeling a little cheated at how much of the main mystery happened off page. I understand what King was trying to do by having it play out this way, but I didn’t derive the same thrill from the “who did it” revelation at the end.
From this review, it sounds like I didn’t like A Letter of Mary at all, but I did enjoy it. There’s something comforting about King’s writing and her characters are always entertaining. I just didn’t click very well with the main plot of this book. All in all, it was a good addition to the series, but not one that I’ll be revisiting anytime soon.