In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation . . . or sink a boatload of careers.
Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the thirteen blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.
Pirate King is a Laurie King treasure chest—thrilling, intelligent, romantic, a swiftly unreeling masterpiece of suspense.
My roommate loaned me the first book in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series about two years ago. Since then they have become my go-to comfort books. I’m always excited for another one, even though this is the 11th in the series!
Those who have read any of the earlier books will no doubt be familiar with the setup: there’s a mystery. Russell and Holmes solve it. It involves lots of tea and coffee along the way. Seriously, every time I read these books I find myself running for the kettle with a strong craving for English Breakfast.
In Pirate King Mary finds herself on a journey with a film crew. It involves boats, blonde starlets, swashbuckling young men, and a lot of confusion. Honestly, this book is a bit of a silly romp in comparison with the others, but that’s acknowledged in the opening notes. And perhaps it was needed, considering how tense and dark the past two stories were. Even though this was far from my favorite, I couldn’t help but be impressed at how well King managed to write the scenes involving so many characters. A lot of the interactions had a slapstick air that was very reminiscent of early films.
All in all, it was a fun, quick read and I will pick up the next book just as eagerly.