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Dreaming Spies by Laurie R King

My rating: 3 of 5

ebook, 352 pages
Mystery, Historical Fiction
Published Feb 17th, 2015 by Bantam
Available on: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audible

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What they say:

What I have to say:

Dreaming Spies is the first book from author Laurie R King that I read. I’d been meaning to read Mary Russell’s adventures for a while, so when I saw this book and its praise as a novel of suspense, blackmail, fraud, conspiracy and espionage that included the wonderful Sherlock Holmes, I knew I had to read it. I also knew this wasn’t going to be a full Homes mystery, but I was excited to read how this dynamic duo behaved together.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R King Book Cover

Of course, being the cover lover that I am, this book’s cover had me at hello. It is so feminine and mysterious at the same time. It does a great job in setting the mood and helps you imagine the setting of the story. I like this cover, it will look gorgeous on any book shelf.

Dreaming Spies is divided into 3 parts. It starts in Sussex and Oxford, then we take a trip from India to Japan where we stay for part 2 of the book and then we’re back to Oxford where it all ties up. In all honesty I think book one could’ve been edited because nothing exciting happened. Book 2 was better than the first, more action and drama, but my favorite part was book 3, which is when we finally see the mystery unfold.

I don’t know if it is the same with other books in this series, and I suspect that fans of this series might have no problem with King’s writing style; they are already used to it, but as a first time reader I had a hard time getting into the story. It wasn’t as fast paced as I expected it to be. The story moves too slow for my taste, and what makes it more difficult to fully enjoy it is that once you think the story might be moving forward it stalls and you feel stuck reading endless and redundant descriptions that make you feel a bit blasé.

While I take my hat off because of how well researched this book is, I can’t say that I absolutely appreciate the infinite, superfluous and detailed descriptions included. No offense, but I felt like they could’ve edited the research to make the story more engaging. While it was nice to read about life on a cruise ship in the 20’s, and it was interesting to read about Japan, especially about ninjas, it felt like too much. The book focuses too much on the description and leaves the mystery to be solved and the interaction between Russell and Holmes in a second place. I felt like I had to read half of the book in order for Russell and Holmes to finally get an “exciting” mission.

The one thing I take from this book is the Haikus at the beginning of every chapter. I enjoyed reading them as they did a great job setting the mood for each chapter. Each haiku describes the chapter to perfection. I enjoyed them very much.

Another thing I take from this book is the Holmes-Russell duo action. It made a brief appearance in the final part of the book. Despite it being only for the last part of the book, I could see how those two are made for each other, not in the romantic aspect of their relationship but in how they complement each other and seem to belong together solving cases.

And finally, the last thing I take from this book is that in the end everything tied up well. It would’ve infuriated me if after reading so many never-ending words it ended on a cliffhanger. But fortunately this is not the case with this book. Despite it being part of a series, the case is solved and the ending gives you closure. And this saved the book from getting only two stars. If you take away the descriptions, the plot and the way the mystery is solved is good. Also, despite it feeling boring at times, I never felt like I wanted to DNF it. So 3 stars it gets.

Having read Dreaming Spies, I don’t feel motivated to check out the other books in this series. So in terms of recommending it, I guess I can say that if you’re looking for an action packed, fast-paced, exciting mystery featuring Holmes and Russell, this is not the book for you. If you want to earn extensive knowledge of what it was like to travel by sea from India to Japan in the 1920’s, this is the book for you. If you want to learn about Japan, the Japanese culture, and ninjas, this is the book for you. And of course, if you are a fan of Laurie R King and her Mary Russell series, this is the book for you.

NewWords Button by Bloggeretterized

  • Inured. verb. Accustomed (someone) to something, especially something unpleasant.
  • Outré. adjective. Unusual and startling.
  • Drawler. noun. A person who speaks in a slow manner, usually prolonging the vowels.
  • Bedfellows. noun. A person or thing that is associated or connected with another
  • Quoits-rings. noun. A ring that is used in quoits (a game in which players try to throw rings over a small post that is standing upright in the ground).
  • Caterwauling. verb. To utter long wailing cries, as cats in rutting time.
  • Unabashedly. adverb. Not ashamed, disconcerted, or apologetic; boldly certain of one’s position.
  • Dithered. verb. 1. To act irresolutely; vacillate. 2. North England. to tremble with excitement or fear.
  • Wakarimasuka. Japanese for Do you understand?
  • Befuddlement. noun. To confuse, as with glib statements or arguments.
  • Haberdashery. noun. The goods sold there.
  • Garrulous. adjective. Excessively talkative in a rambling, roundabout manner, especially about trivial matters.
  • Gaol. noun. Jail (British)
  • Askance. adverb. With suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval.
  • Tuppence. noun. Twopence. British. a sum of two pennies.
  • Postprandial. adjective. After a meal, especially after dinner
Words have different meanings. Those presented here are as used in the book read. All definitions from Dictionary.com


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I liked this description of the Haiku a lot!

The haiku captures a fleeting moment. Of great beauty, or heartbreak. A moment that, hmm, … encapsulates the essence of a season. Such as the fragrance of blossoming cherries, or the sound of snow, or the feel of hot summer wind blowing the bamboo.


Quotes about Ninjas. Did you know this? I didn’t but I’m glad to know now. 🙂

“ ‘Ninja’ means ‘spy,’ ”

“ ‘Ninja’ means hidden. We are invisible, because we look like something else. We may be Samurai, but we appear to be peasants, or priests, or one of the eta—outcasts, who perform the filthiest of jobs—in order to bring our master the information he requires. Or, I admit, sometimes to gain access to a man our master requires killed.

‘shinobi,’ or as you call it, ‘ninja,’ means hidden.



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I received an Electronic copy of this book but was not financially compensated in any way nor obliged to review. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my personal experience while reading it. This post contains affiliate links as stated in my disclosure policy.