Monday, December 19, 2011

The Moor

Book Review

The Moor by Laurie R. King

I recently reviewed The Hound of the Baskervilles. And I did so because of this book: The Moor.

The Moor is the fourth book in the King series, and seeing how I have already read the first three, picking up The Moor seemed like a natural thing to do.

Which I did. And I started reading it. And it is full of references to The Hound of the Baskervilles. About a third of the way in, I decided that I had to stop reading The Moor, and go off and read The Hound.

Which I did.

Then I returned to The Moor.

The Moor

I liked this book from the start, but as I continued to read, I became more and more frustrated. I didn't know about the Baskervilles. Or the Hound. I needed to find out so that I could put the current story in the proper context.

Once I finished The Hound, I was in a much better position to continue and enjoy The Moor.

I am pretty ignorant of England and the landscape of England. I've never been there, I don't know anyone who lives there, and only recently have I had any interest at all in going there. So, it's not really surprising that I have no clue what a "moor" is. I certainly am not familiar with Dartmoor.

Lucky for me, The Moor tells me all about it. I liked reading the extensive narrative about the loneliness of the place, the harshness of the place, the unforgiving nature of the place.

It is the perfect setting for a ghost story.

But if you know anything about Sherlock Holmes, you know that ghosts are not usually in his conclusions of events or circumstances.

The cast of characters seems larger than in the previous Mary Russell books. This tripped me up once or twice and was surely compounded by my going off and reading The Hound in the middle. I don't recommend reading these two books the way I did.

Do your self a favor and read The Hound before and separately from The Moor. I wish I had known to do this.

Here, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes don't disappoint. We get to see each in fine form, doing what they do best. I did notice that Mary seemed to be more affected by her surroundings and much more easily spooked than in any of the previous Russell books. I guess it was intended to be this way, but I found it a bit disappointing, based on the what I already know about the character.

Maybe I felt this new spookiness didn't quite fit with the character I thought I knew. Yes, I think that is it. Well, I am willing to wait and see and read the next book to see if this new dimension to the Russell character persists or if it was just convenient to this particular story and setting. I hope it is the latter.

Just like in The Hound, and I'm sure this was done on purpose, The Moor ends in a manner I like. The bad guy doesn't get away, but Russell and Holmes don't take him in or kill him. This sort of ending suits my mentality just fine.

There's something rather unsatisfying about each of those other options. The potential for detention and a trial and a release from prison some day all leave things somewhat less than finalized. The idea of killing the bad guy is final all right, but it leaves a heavy moral burden on what are supposed to be mere investigators. Both of these are less than ideal to me. I much prefer the ending our author has cooked up.

I enjoyed The Moor, despite my disorienting side trip into The Hound, and I certainly recommend it. Now I just have to figure what is the next book in the series!

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