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Holmes, Russell, Danger, Adventure -- What More Could I Ask?
O Jerusalem
Laurie King
I notice that some readers feel that dropping back to the time of "The Beekeper's Apprentice" for this fifth book, rather than continuing in chronological order may have been a mistake. Personally, i don't.

If nothing else, it gives King a chance to establish Russell's feelings toward her background and her heritage as a young Jewish woman in the period just after World War One, as she travels through the Holy Land. It gives her a chance to again depict and to clarify the early relationship of Holmes and Russell, and to show us the beginning of the changes in that relationship.

And it gives an excuse to write a grand, old-fashioned but quite "modern" adventure novel -- exotic places! Strange customs! Assassins in the night! Plots and counter-plots! Hair's-breadth escapes! It's all there.

Needing to lay low for a while, Holmes and Russell accept a request from brother Mycroft Holmes and head out to the Holy Land, newly-conquered by the British under Allenby, and to discover just what is going on.

Accompanied by a pair of alleged Arab allies, Ali and Mahmoud (there's something just a bit too good to be true about these fellows...), Holmes and Russell begin their investigation. And the plot that they discover -- and find themselves called to thwart at the last instant -- is one to rival or even surpass Guy Fawkes's Gunpowder Plot in the scale of consequences. Fawkes, after all, was only looking to blow up Parliament; this plot strikes at government, clergy and some of the world's holiest sites simultaneously.

As would be expected from Laurie King, though there are some *very* funny moments -- the dinner at the American Colony in Jerusalem, with Russell and Holmes, both in disguise, acting the parts of complete strangers, for instance. (Holmes chooses the alias "William Gillette" for this...)

But there are some dark moments, indeed -- Mary's loss of family in a car crash is vividly recalled, Holmes is tortured, several killings take place -- staged in a manner to stimulate unrest/rebellion.

But in the end, of course, our heroes *do* save the day.

As much as anything, this book is a set-up for the next to come, in which i understand that Holmes and Russell return to the Holy Land; by teaching Russell what she needs to operate undercover there in this story, she avoids the necessity to slow down the next.