Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King

Hardcover, published Bantam 2015. And yes, the title’s a pun.
I’m sorry to say that this series is only just holding me. It is now more the cumulative effect of the books and characters that makes me keep reading than the impact of each book. I like the characters, and yet their hold too is slowly fading. I found that the two books before this one were weaker, less of an engrossing story and more of a meander through faux-history. If the next is no stronger, then it is likely that I will not only stop purchasing them, but I will give that last four to my local library and keep only the series up to and including The God of the Hive. It happens. Another author whose books I loved lost me a couple of years ago when she switched main characters from mother to son and to me anyhow her books lost my interest totally with that switch. I do however cherish the 15 previous to that switch and will continue to read and re-read them. Likewise with Ms. King. I’ll have the first ten books, which I love and will keep.
So, in Dreaming Spies Mary and Sherlock are on the way to America, to check up on some long-neglected business relating to Mary’s family, when they break the trip with a stopover in Japan. But before they arrive there they become involved with a young Japanese woman, and with a notorious clubman, The Earl of Darnley who is known to Sherlock as a blackmailer, Darnley’s young wife and his adult son, and the possibility of spies, international blackmail, and the Emperor of Japan.
This book is sweet and rather gentle, officially it ticks all the boxes, it suggests a fore-view of what in another twenty years will be the foundation of world war two, it has Sherlock and Mary immersed in a very different culture with a quite in-depth look at that, and then it has them back in Oxford with odd events and dangerous people. It has deceit, mystery, minor mayhem, and scholarship. Still it never quite caught me up into the story. I think that this is because the last three books have been more about the cultures that background the books, more as if the author wants to introduce me to these cultures, than involve me in an exciting mystery/crime, and I read mysteries for the whodunnit aspects, not to be taught about a culture I may not know.In fact I have known, and that has made much of that aspect slightly boring. This series continues to be well-written, but as I say, I read whodunnits, and for the fast-paced, catch-me-up interest, not for social studies. One more of that type, and that’s me, gone.

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