I feel like I need to write two different reviews for Pirate King-- one directed towards those new to Mary Russell, and one for fans of the series.I'm generally a proponent of reading series in order, and that does stand for these books. That said, most (but not all) of the Mary Russell books can stand alone fairly well, and this one is relies on the books that came before even less than the rest.In other words, if this book intrigues you, go ahead and stick your toes in here. You may well want to fill in the earlier books when you finish, but don't worry about that right now.This is a really fun read. It isn't so much a funny read as a comic one, and it never takes itself too seriously. I loved the pirates, the movie people, the crazy poet/translator, but most of all, I loved Mary Russell in the middle of it all.This book is less about the mystery than it is about dealing with a rather ridiculous situation with a straight face, solving the problems that arise without ever letting on exactly how odd the overall picture really is. The mystery is there to hold the book together. This book is much lighter on the character development than the usual Laurie R. King book, but the cast of characters are well put together and fun to read.For those looking at this book having read others in the series, I've got a few other notes to share. First, while Russell and Holmes don't develop as characters in this book, they are behaving in character. I was a little worried about that, but I needn't have been. Yes, Holmes and Russell do spend more of the book apart than together, but that isn't really a surprise at this point, is it?Although there are moments of humor in most (if not all) of the other books in the series, this has a decidedly different overall tone. It works quite well as a contrast to the previous 3 books, which were getting progressively darker. I don't mind if the series goes that way as a whole, but this is a nice break.I don't think this will ever be one of my favorite Mary Russell books, but I suspect I'll always approach it with a smile, in anticipation of a very enjoyable read.