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Laurie R. King writes so well that occasionally she puts me off my guard. I was about a third of the way through the book before I decided it might be wise to check whether the Conan Doyle characters she was so eloquently dismantling would stay dismantled. I skimmed ahead and decided not to continue. Let's just say, for all her gifts, King can be self-indulgent, and this isn't the first time I've decided not to play along. I'll keep reading the series, though, because there have been so many gems so far.
Edited to add: I bumped the rating up from 3-1/2 to 4 stars for the "Sherlock on the case" part of this story, which has become a rare thing in King's Mary Russell stories...but she does it so well!
This book nearly tears apart all the main characters we've grown to love, including Russell, Holmes, Mycroft, Billy, and Mrs. Hudson. It rearranges them, too, almost beyond recognition. Yet the principles remain the same. I enjoyed it very much.
How can you kill off the main character of your book? Conan Doyle got sick of Sherlock Holmes, but when he needed the money he brought him back. Does Laurie King follow in the footsteps of the great Conan Doyle and actually kill off Sherlock's wife? Must read to solve this mystery.
I so love the history of the period that King brings along with her plots. So much info about what is happening in society and the status of women. Sub-stories of minor characters so enhance the story.
Strong writing and a good story but it felt overly long to me. I was a bit tired of it by the end.
This is two stories for the price of one: the murder of Mary Russell in the "present," and a more complete backstory on Mrs. Hudson, on her relationship to Holmes, on Billy Wiggins, Holmes' first case (the Gloria Scott), and even on the location of 221B Baker St...! There is a lot for fans of the Mary Russell series, or of the Holmes canon itself, to enjoy.
Mrs. Hudson has been a presence in the Holmes stories, and now she becomes the centerpiece in this well-written mystery. Mrs. Hudson had a dubious youth, one which led to secrets and death. These return to visit more mayhem on the trio of Holmes, Russell, and Hudson.
Another great story weaving Sherlocks Holmes into a strong supporting character, sidekick to his strong, independent wife, Mary Russell. This one is vital to any Sherlock Holmes fan, because it creates a fascinating past life for Mrs. Hudson and how she came to be the Holmes housekeeper. According to Laurie King, there’s a lot more to the quiet, dignified woman than she permits the reader to see in previous books. Well-written and a book that makes great escape reading.
I agree that the title's misleading. I hoped from the beginning that it would be. And I missed the byplay between Holmes and Russell. Nonetheless, I loved having Mrs. Hudson move from the background to the foreground. And I loved seeing the criminals shift to the foreground too. I did have to go back and reread some sections, as this one's much more complex than some others in the series. All that said, the trick works, fortunately. Will we learn more of Clarissa in Monte Carlo? That would be nice. And what will Holmes and Russell do for a housekeeper? A most satisfying read.
Another fantastic Mary Russell story. I am kind of sad that now I have to wait for the author to write another book before I can read another story (I started reading this series a few months ago). I have to admit that due to the story skipping back and forth in time, it wasn't until I re-read it that I felt like I understood some of the more subtle plot details. I also like the fact that the author puts in details from an actual Conan Doyle story in her story, then expands upon it. (**Spoiler alert**) I felt like this book should have been called "The Murder of Mrs. Hudson", if only for the fact that it would not have frightened me with the thought of Mary Russell and the series dying. I also felt that this was less of a "what happened here?" mystery as it was learning quite a bit about Mrs. Hudson's past. I think it is a bit of a stretch and perhaps not true to Sherlock Holmes's character that (even at a young and impetuous age) he would provide a personal, profitable parole for a young woman on the wrong side of the law and in a bad place, especially when that meant that she would be his landlady and have plenty of opportunities to poison him or find some other convenient accident to kill him. The fact that he professes that there will never be any romantic connection between them makes it even more unbelievable. Perhaps if she had been a very active member of the Irregulars, it would be more understandable, but that is not possible given her near constant presence in the Conan Doyle stories. I think it is just a convenient way to tie in her backstory. Really, even if you were a great actor, would you want to play the role of a housekeeper for 40 + years? Towards the end of the book I think we get a better view of Mrs. Hudson's intelligence and also a brief moment where she is still questioning how to view Sherlock Holmes, jailer or savior? (I realize that is not quite how she puts it). My main complaint is, I don't want Clarissa, I want Mrs. Hudson back, with the traditional, comforting ways, always looking out for Mary and Holmes. I realize she might be nothing more than a stereotype until this book, but I have a hard time picturing Holmes without Mrs. Hudson in the background. Also, Holmes and Mary care about her and how are they going to get in touch with her when she's living the high life in Monaco?
This is the first book I've read in King's series. It has enough mystery, enough history - but Just enough. If you've seen the latest Sherlock PBS series and read other Sherlock Holmes writings this is just a small addition of variety. This book, however, does not stand alone as a significant contribution.
Enjoyable, quick read. This is a fun series.
I found this book to be short on action, not as interesting as some of the earlier ones in the series, but still very much worth reading.
Even though this book is more about Mrs. Hudson than the murder of Mary Russell, it was a good book. Not the best of the series, (but there have been a few that I have not enjoyed at all) but well worth the read. I really enjoyed hearing about Mrs. Hudson's background.
This whole series is terrific! And who would have guessed that Mrs. Hudson had such a fascinating back story? I agree with the other comments below that the title is dumb, but I enjoyed this book. The plot kept my interest, and the connection between past and present is eventually made. This is not the best book in the series, but it is a worthy entry. Like any series, it must be read in order for maximum enjoyment.
Stupid title. Stupid Library Journal review. The book is the history of Mrs. Hudson and is fascinating. The first half the book is often annoyingly interrupted with a fake-y "worry" that Mary Russell was injured or killed, and I couldn't have cared less as she clearly wasn't. That is not a spoiler as you will see when you read the mess the police made of the crime scene. None of this takes place at 221B Baker Street, again clearly, since Mary Russell was not even born when Holmes left that address. Ignore the reviews and title and just lose yourself in the discovery that you have long ignored one of the most interesting of all the Conan Doyle characters!
Let me get a couple of things out of the way. First, I'm a huge fan of this series. Second, this is a well written book. So why the 3 stars?
The title is misleading. It starts with a bang when Mary opens her door to a stranger. But this book is really about Mrs. Hudson. We get the 411 on her parents, her childhood & how she met Holmes. Interspersed are short chapters on Mary's present day encounter with a man from Mrs. H's past.
But Mary & Holmes are minor characters & Holmes doesn't appear until the halfway mark.
Some people may enjoy it but I read these books because I love following our intrepid couple on their adventures. For me, everything revolves around the fascinating relationship between Mary & Sherlock & I missed their interaction & the usual witty dialogue.
So the book really started at the 70% mark (IMHO), going from a tough slog to page turner at that point.
As stated, it's well written so if you've ever wondered how Holmes got his housekeeper, give it a try. Just know going in it's a big departure from previous books in the series.