The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King may be one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes books I have ever read. Even though Holmes doesn’t even show up until you are half way through the novel! It may also be my favorite Mary Russell book so far even though she disappears early in the book! In fact it may be my favorite Holmes and Russell book, even though it hardly features either of them!
“…Kettle on, two cups on a tray, anything else a hostess ought to do? A plate of something hospitable, perhaps? I searched through the tins where she stored her baked goods, and found a startling array of biscuits, sponges, and teacakes-ah, yes: we were having a part on Saturday. I hesitated between her Sultana biscuits and a loaf with strips of lemon peel on the top. Which would an Australian salesman prefer? Perhaps I should ask.
‘Mrs-your mother has made Sultana biscuits and a lemon loaf. Which would you-‘
My voice strangled to a halt as I stepped into the sitting room and looked into the working end of a revolver.
Behind the gun stood a man with murder in his eyes…”
Mary Russell has kept many secrets in her life, especially since she became the partner and wife to her famous husband, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Besides him there are few she trusts. One of those few is the woman who helped raise her since she came into their lives in her late teens. Their housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. So it was with incredible surprise that she opened the door one day to find a young man on her step, a man who claimed to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.
Samuel Hudson claims to be the son Mrs. Hudson left in Australia with her sister and abandoned when he was just a baby. Russell finds this hard to believe and yet she does. Only what she doesn’t realize is that Hudson is not there to reunite with his mother. Samuel Hudson is there to Mary Russell. And in a horrible moment, everything changes.
When Mrs. Hudson comes home, she finds her home tossed, a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air, and Mary Russell gone. What she also finds is a keepsake, a charm to another time, another place and another Mrs. Hudson. The woman she was before she came to Baker Street.
Yes I know, Sherlockians worldwide will freak over this one! A Sherlock Holmes story where the main character is Mrs. Hudson? Okay so just get your freak on already! This book is great. The tale of how Mrs. Hudson came to be and no its not some timid, fainting at the drop of a hat landlady here. Hudson is a con artist, a confidence man who fools everyone from the gentry to the gangland criminals. All except for a young man who would become the world’s foremost consulting detective.
All of this builds to the moment where Mary Russell stands in her home looking into the working end of a gun. Then she is gone. The mystery that follows; where is Russell, what really happened and who exactly is Samuel Hudson. More so, how does all this tie into the very first case Sherlock Holmes ever worked on? Way before Watson came into the picture.
“…Would you like me to take them to Mr. Holmes?’
She did not reply. His head came around. He bent down to stare into her face. ‘You…’ He studied her expression, a look of mischief that he hadn’t seen since-when? Since he was a child, and she had rescued him. Long enough to forget she was capable of looking like that. He shook his head in wonder, and felt his mouth begin to lose control. ‘You’re not going to tell him, are you? Oh, you wicked woman.’
She tore her gaze from his and concentrated on returning the roll to its manikin exterior, her own lips wearing a demure smile. ‘You know, when it comes to women, Mr. Holmes has always been just the teeniest bit naive…”
Hello Clarissa Hudson, it is so a pleasure to make your acquaintance and here is hoping that this is not the last we will see of this Mrs. Hudson!
An awesome read!