Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Murder of Mary Russell

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell, #14)The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful addition to the series! It was a real page-turner, keeping me engaged from the suspenseful opening scene through to the denouement and ending. It is something of a departure from the rest of the series, however, as only the very beginning and ending are told from Mary’s viewpoint. Most of the rest of the book is a look at the early life of Mrs. Hudson, the Holmes’ inestimable housekeeper, which may not be to everyone’s liking. As I enjoy historical fiction, this was no hindrance to my enjoyment of the book.

The book opens with a rather horrific encounter between Mary and a stranger who appears unannounced at her door, while she is home alone. All we know is that afterward, Mary is gone and there is blood all over the floor. The link between the intruder and Mrs. Hudson sets us off on a journey through Mrs. Hudson’s childhood in Australia, and early adulthood in England. We find out that the meek and mild Mrs. Hudson has a rather sordid past, though this is presented without condemnation. I found this part of the book to be fascinating, and I was drawn fully into the story. It’s almost a novel in and of itself. The events of her life lead us to see how she became Sherlock’s housekeeper, but along the way we are treated to a wild ride in the seamy underground of grifters and conmen.

The mystery surrounding Mary Russell’s disappearance is wrapped up quickly at the end, thanks to Sherlock’s brilliance, of course. I have a few quibbles with the story (see the spoiler section, below) but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book.


I loved how Mrs. Hudson and Sherlock Holmes meet for the first time. It was a treat to see the young Sherlock, before he became a legend, at the beginning of his career and at the early development of his talents.

I didn’t love the conditions Sherlock placed on Mrs. Hudson for her return to England. I thought that forcing her to leave her child was cruel, and their agreement seemed to put Mrs. Hudson in thrall to Sherlock. It’s as if Sherlock is her parole officer. I don’t like this change in their relationship. While I have no problem with her shady past (it’s kind of thrilling to know she led such a double life) I really don’t care for how I see her now, in relation to Sherlock. I used to think of her as something of a mother hen to Sherlock - that he was dependent upon her. But this new view of their relationship definitely puts him in control over her. It is a somewhat benevolent control, to be sure, but it is control, nevertheless, and it’s not to my liking at all.

I also HATED the fact that Mrs. Hudson leaves the Holmes’ employ at the end!! You can’t have Sherlock without Mrs. Hudson!! I hope that in subsequent books she will be able to come back home where she belongs.

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