Laurie R. King
reviewed by Linda Baker
After Russell and Holmes’ adventures with Mrs. Hudson in Monaco (Rivera Gold), Sherlock receives a summons from Marie of Romania. Marie is Queen of Romania and the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and a personage in her own right.
She is taking up residence in Castle Bran, given to her by her grateful people. She has received messages that threaten Princess Ileana’s life if Ileana also comes to the castle. She wants Holmes to find out just what is going on. Upon arrival, the two find all sorts of things going on; summonses from the graveyard, girls disappearing, a possible ghost haunting. But none of that seems connected to any threat to Ileana. The two take to skulking about the grounds at night to try to find the perpetrator. Of course, they know it is nothing supernatural, even more so when Mary is smashed over the head and kidnapped. When she comes to and escapes, they discover puncture marks on her neck. It’s clear someone is trying to stir up bad feelings against the Queen and her upcoming visit. But how far are they willing to go?
Each book in the Russell and Holmes series is a treat for a history geek like me. Who knew that the Queen attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and single-handedly gained international recognition of Romania reclaiming Transylvania? Not me. She was a force to be reckoned with and beloved by her people. Many historical figures make appearances in Castle Shade, and all are portrayed fictionally but accurately within the context. The novels are extremely atmospheric, making me feel I had visited the far-flung places and times in each adventure with Russell and Holmes.
Many Sherlock “purists” object to this long-running series, but I am not one of them; personally, I think Sherlock Holmes is immortal, and kudos to Laurie King for keeping the legend alive with such entertaining novels, and Mary Russell keeping him on his toes.