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December 17, 2010

Language of Bees

I'm an impulse-reader.  With the best of intentions, I jot down books or authors friends recommend to me.  I make lists of titles and subjects in the news or mentioned on blogs that I think I'll like.  And then, dazzled by shelves and shelves of glorious books, I grab whatever title catches my eye.

The Language of Bees  was my most recent grab.  The ninth novel in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series, it's the first Laurie King book I've read, and I didn't feel lost without having read the previous eight novels.  Mary Russell, Sherlock Holmes' wife, is sharp-minded enough to match wits with the aging sleuth and calculate the course of a delusional killer.  She's funny, too--in a wry, self-effacing manner.  Russell is an enjoyable character with a distinct voice as you can tell from her blog.  (Yes, Mary Russell has her own blog.  And yes, my characters are a little envious.)

Structurally, the novel takes chances.  A couple of times in the first half of the novel, King shifts from Russell's first-person narration to third-person scenes involving Holmes and Damien Adler without Russell.  Set apart in distinct chapters, the occasional third person narration didn't pull me out of the story.  The scenes between Holmes and Adler enriched the story and actually drew me in more deeply, engaging my empathy.  An extended flashback near the novel's beginning  had the same effect.

Goes to show, you can't be afraid to experiment with structure.    

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