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When I first opened my digital copy of Garment of Shadows, I was expecting something entirely different. Having never read Laurie R. King before, all I knew was that her latest novel was part of her "Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes" series. I assumed it would be a mystery set in late Victorian or early twentieth century London, with Sherlock Holmes and this Mary Russell character solving some pesky rash of crimes, mostly from the comfort of an armchair in a smoky room on Baker Street. Don't get me wrong, I would not have been disappointed in the least if that had been the case, but it was not. Instead, I was immediately transported to the sights and smells of Morocco, where our heroine Mary Russell Holmes seems to have awoken with minor injuries and a nasty case of amnesia. As she struggles to figure out where she is and, more pressingly, who she is (a struggle I undertook right along with her, having never read any previous books in the series), she makes her way through the busy market places of Fez. The writing is so rich and detailed that I almost forgot I wouldn't need to speak Arabic to understand it! I felt like I could hear the vendors calling out to me amid their stalls of spices, teas and exotic meats (at one point there is a description of a skinned camel head hanging in a butcher shop that sincerely made me cringe, fearing I would soon be able to smell it, so vivid was the image).
I suspect that long time fans of this series might not have been quite as confused as I was.
I've noticed other reviewers were excited by the return of some of their favourite recurring characters who, for me, were all new. So I'm not certain this is as good as a stand alone novel as it would be as part of a series. I certainly enjoyed it, but I now want to go back and find all the other Mary Russell adventures by Laurie R. King and read them in order!
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley.com. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.