Having made a complete pig's ear of this post this morning, five minutes before I was due to go out and no time to correct it, I'm trying again this afternoon. Ever get the feeling you don't belong in this century...
I'm going through one of those busy periods at the moment - my husband had a knee operation the week before last so that's involved a lot of coming and going, next week I have a friend from Memphis coming to stay for 10 days so of course that means lots of housework and careful planning, and after that we're off on holiday to Cornwall for a week. So basically October is going to be something of a washout as far as reading is concerned; it'll probably come down to reading in bed for ten minutes last thing at night. The book I'm talking about here, The Moor by Laurie R. King, took me ten days to read and that's no reflection on the book - it was an excellent read. It is in fact the fourth and final book for my Peril the First challenge for Carl's RIP III Halloween challenge.
This the fourth book in the celebrated Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. It begins with Mary, busy with her studies at Oxford, receiving a telegram from Sherlock Holmes. He's on Dartmoor, staying with a friend, The Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould. He needs Mary's help but doesn't say why and, albiet reluctantly, Mary hotfoots it down to Dartmoor immediately. She arrives in the middle of nowhere, isn't met, and has to walk the two miles, at night, in the pouring rain, through muddy lanes. She arrives wet, muddy and dishevelled and isn't best pleased at the rather snotty reaction she gets from the men of the house. Worse still the house is freezing and the food appalling: Mary is more than a little bit inclined to return to Oxford the next day. Instead she allows Holmes to tell her about a strange death that has occurred on the moor and about a ghostly coach accompanied by a large black dog that has apparently been seen in several parts of the moor. Russell and Holmes set out to travel the moor, gathering as much information as they can about the dead man and the apparitions people have seen. Baskerville Hall, the scene of one of Holmes's most famous cases, has new residents, Americans, Richard Ketteridge and his secretary, David Scheiman. Holmes and Russell get to know them and then suddenly the mystery deepens when a man is found dead - floating upside down in a quarry pool. Can The Moor be persuaded to reveal some of its secrets to the two sleuths?
I think this is probably my favoutite Holmes/Russell mystery so far. I live not far from Dartmoor and visit occasionally, so some of the locations were quite familiar to me. That could explain why I like this one so much but I think too the air of mystery and suspense is quite strong. But really, I think it is all down to Dartmoor itself. The author describes the wildness of Dartmoor very vividly, it's as though the moor is an important character in its own right, so strong is the atmosphere of wild but slightly menacing beauty. I've fished out a few photos I've taken in the past which I thought would go quite nicely with this post.
Two general views first, illustrating quite well the wildness of Dartmoor.
Next, two views of Hound Tor:
The softer face of Dartmoor - this is the village of Buckland-in-the-moor.
And this is Widecombe-in-the-moor of Uncle Tom Cobbley fame.
Anyway, an excellent read. Officially my challenge is finished I suppose but I intend to continue with the books on my list as there are several I still really want to read - depending on time of course.