The Moor (Mary Russell, #4) - Laurie R. King Reading this, the fourth episode in King's Mary Russell series, was made more enjoyable by immediately preceding it with a re-read of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The plot and characters of arguably the greatest of Sherlock Holmes stories was thus firmly in my head, ready to inform my reading of King's offering.

A very good offering it is. King does a superb job of evoking the most important "character" in the novel - and in The Hound of the Baskervilles for that matter - that is, Dartmoor itself: dark, lonely, mysterious, beautiful and threatening. Russell and Holmes are, as ever, on form. The supporting cast are equally well-drawn. The mystery ties neatly into the events of The Hound of the Baskervilles and is satisfying, if not particularly enthralling.

This novel does have its weaknesses. The weaving into the narrative of the life and works of Sabine Baring-Gould, while well done, was a touch excessive for my taste. I learned more about a man I'd never heard of before than I really wanted to know. And what I learned did not make me want to go out and learn even more. There was also a bit too much running around on Dartmoor done by Russell (and by Holmes, for that matter), to no great effect. The moor excursions provide plenty of local colour, but most of their travels on it only marginally advance the plot.

Still, I enjoyed this novel despite its weaknesses. King is an intelligent writer. She respects the Sherlock Holmes canon. Her version of Holmes is recognisable and Mary Russell is an interesting creation. Plus, between them Doyle and King have made me really want to visit Dartmoor. Preferably by daylight, in fine weather. And not on horseback.

Overall, I thought that this installment was marginally less sucessful than number 3, but still most enjoyable. Possibly closer to 3-1/2 stars.