I greatly enjoyed this, and decided to give this full marks. The series is basically Sherlock Holmes fanfic, with the great detective given a female romantic and professional partner. So many ways it could have gone wrong, but I never have felt King's creation Mary Russell was a Mary Sue--for all her capabilities she has had her vulnerabilities, and I think this installment is among the most personal and introspective of the books, and I loved that aspect. One thing I've enjoyed about the books so far, and this is the eighth of them, is that King keeps changing things up so they're fresh. Even the narrative technique is different in this one, consisting not only of Russell's first person narrative, but third person from other perspectives.
And, as usual--and it's infectious--you can tell King has a blast with these, this one perhaps more than usual. <i>The Moor</i> has the Sherlock Holmes novel <i>The Hound of the Baskervilles</i> for its basis. <i>The Game</i> was set in India under the British Raj and was a homage to Kipling's <i>Kim.</i> This one takes place in 1924 San Francisco. King is a California native and resident and she even slips an ancestor who survived the famous 1906 quake into the narrative as a character. She writes San Francisco with evident affection, and even included Dashiell Hammett, the one time Pinkerton Agent and mystery writer, as a character. There's even a playful reference to Conan Doyle, Holmes' creator... er, I mean biographer. This novel isn't quite the favorite some of the other Russell novels have been--<i>The Beekeeper's Apprentice</i>, <i>A Letter of Mary</i> and <i>Justice Hall</i>--but boy was this a pleasure. It was a treat in particular to get more of Holmes from his own perspective.