What a pleasure to discover a whole new genre of fiction, even though the rest of the world has seemingly known about it for years.
Meet Mary Russell, the fictional wife of the equally fictional Sherlock Holmes.
Miss Russell has to be one of the most charming derring-do heroines a reader could hope to meet. Young, short-sighted and a feminist long before her time, in “The Game” Mary and her husband set off for India on the trail of… ?
Well, who else but Kim ?
Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, naturally.
This delicious detective novel cleverly weaves the lives of two fictional greats together, with just enough literary detail that occasionally you catch yourself wondering “What if..” and “Could they really…”
Mary is the driving force in the novel, and is a hugely attractive heroine, putting up with all the cloak-and-dagger-y stuff that life with Sherlock Holmes (and Kim) demands.
“The Game” is her story, her adventure, and her good-natured sense of humour drives the exciting plot along, though her love, respect and trust in her husband are clearly the mainstay of her life. To see the great Sherlock Holmes in love with a charming young woman is to see one of fiction’s greats through a different lens.
India of the early 1920s is brilliantly brought to life, in all its avatars. From colonial Delhi, to fly-blown villages and caravanserai, to the fabulous but troublesome kingdom of Khanpur, our intrepid heroine (and her husband) travel in search of Kim, who is by now middle-aged.
Of course he is.
Jimmy, the hugely rich but hugely bored Maharajah of Khanpur is brought to brilliant life, his intelligence, charm and sense of grievance making him a compelling, increasingly worrying figure.
This literary tour-de-force is charming, fun, and a genuine page-turner. You really don’t want the book to end, whilst simultaneously longing to find out what happens.
“The Game” is published by Allison & Busby and costs £7.99.
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