Riviera Gold

Written by Laurie R. King
Review by Tom Vallar

Intrepid Mary Russell, the oh-so-much-younger wife of Sherlock Holmes, has just landed in the south of France after a three-week working vacation on a fishing vessel while Holmes tends to business in Romania. Her shipboard companions introduce her to two expatriate Americans, Sara and Gerald Murphy, who form the center of a group of artists attempting to make a living in the summer of 1925 on the Cote d’Azur. But it’s the non-artist in their midst who astounds Mary: former housekeeper Mrs. Hudson has fled England and a false murder rap, only to turn up in Monaco where an exotic young man is found dead in her front room.

Holmes joins Mary after learning this news, and as he works with the local police to free Mrs. Hudson, Mary traces the threads between the artists and Monte Carlo’s less-than-legal operators, including some white Russian millionaires. After she innocently meets one of these ruthless tycoons in his hotel suite, Mary is convinced he is behind an illegal scheme. And when her midnight sleuthing uncovers the worst tycoon plotting with an artist, she volunteers to assist that bronze sculptor in finishing his last commission before he ships it to New York, and deduces there may be another metal involved in this art.

Pablo Picasso finds his way into the solution of this 16th entry in the Mary Russell mystery series, and Lillie Langtry is featured as Mrs. Hudson’s life-long friend in both backstory and the present. King’s well-drawn characters will please fans of the series, yet this could be read as a stand-alone by anyone attracted to a fascinating tale of Jazz Age Europe. I number myself among the legion of Holmes devotees and the half-legion of those who have followed Mary through thick and thin, and this not only does not disappoint but also shines in capturing the unique relationship they each enjoy with Mrs. Hudson.