The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
The Murder of Mary Russell, care of Laurie R. King, is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a person oft in the background, yet of a very essential nature in the life of Sherlock, and later, of Mary. This story, despite the title, is all about Mrs. Hudson. From her earliest years to current day, we learn all about the enigmatic, ever-present lady who has tended to Sherlock, and put up with his antics for a good chunk of his adult life. Now we know why.
Mrs. Hudson, born Clarissa, began her life in colonial Australia, after her ma conspired to get herself transported to this far distant penal colony in order to be with her husband. Talk about some kind of devotion! Sadly, her ma died soon after giving birth to a baby brother, who passed not long after his dam. Clarrie threw herself into caring for younger sister Alicia when their da succumbed to the loss of wife and son, throwing himself into the bottle.
A surprising talent of Mrs. Hudson’s brings life back to her father and takes her all the way from Australia to London, where she manages to get herself in a spot of trouble after being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous nobleman. A different sort of trouble brought her to Sherlock’s attention, as he’s hunting her da. Sherlock sets her off to Australia. A year later, she re-enters Sherlock’s life, having given her infant son over to the care of her sister, and sister’s husband.
You might be wondering what Mrs. Hudson’s past has to do with the rather alarming title. To tell that would give far too much away! Suffice to say, it is very relevant. This young Mrs. Hudson reminds me of Sophie Devereaux and that’s how I saw her much of the story. Perceptive people will have a clue from that name as to the nature of her past.
By necessity, this story jumps between past and present, and between different players. Normally stories like this annoy me. I invariably prefer one thread to the exclusion of the other. Not so here! While I definitely preferred the past thread to the present, I thoroughly enjoyed both. Just be forewarned, there’s a major change at the end, one that left me quite asea. It’s easy to get in the habit of seeing stories as time capsules unless you are reading works by George R.R. Martin. They aren’t though, are they? Major changes come to all. People come, people go. Nothing ever stays the same, no matter how much we might wish it. One thing is certain – change brings new growth, whether it is slow or swift, and that is only ever a positive thing.
Highly recommended for lovers of mystery, in general, and of Sherlock and Mary Russell in particular.
Laurie R. King