Sunday, June 12, 2011

On The God of the Hive

I just finished The God of the Hive, the 10th in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series.

Laurie is one of those authors for whom I scan the "new titles" shelves at the library each visit. She is a satisfying writer on many levels, consistently delivering a solid plot, fast-paced story line, interesting characters, multiple locales, a bit of intrigue, a social issue of consequence, and a satisfying ending. I also love the way she pulls issues related to faith into each book, sometimes subtly, sometimes less so. (Click here to read Ms. King's comments about the title of the book, and why the concept of a god is included.)

Mary Russell speaks in first person through most of the chapters, while other chapters follow her husband Sherlock Holmes' activities and thoughts, or those of the villain. One chapter was presented from the perspective of a bird. (Not really sure why... the device didn't add much and was a little bit distracting.)

The chapters tend to be short with lots of action, cliff hangers, and witty one-line closings.

Very little attention is given to the development of the primary characters, which is a luxury afforded to the series novelist. Ms. King instead focuses her character development prowess on lesser characters, in this case the fey Robert Goodman and Holme's precocious 3-year old granddaughter Estelle. King has a knack for creating strong, interesting characters without trespassing into caricature. I'm trying to study how she accomplishes this tightrope walk for the novel I'm working on, given its cast of quirky individuals.

Looks like Ms. King has another Mary Russell book in the works, called Pirate King.

Can't wait!


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