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The Murder of Mary Russell: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 5, 2016
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Praise for The Murder of Mary Russell
“Leaping narrative energy has always been a hallmark of this series, and it reaches something of a peak in this latest volume. . . . The lean momentum of the story never falters. . . . It’s a stunning prolonged feat of storytelling, and it succeeds in making The Murder of Mary Russell the best installment so far in an excellent series.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“[A] sharp, inventive and rewarding series.”—The Seattle Times
“Delightful . . . a triumph of plotting . . . Fans, always hungry to know more personal details about [Laurie R.] King’s iteration of Sherlock Holmes and his world, will get a few more delicious tidbits this time around.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Not only a high point in King’s long-running series, but a compelling demonstration of the ways inventive writers can continue to breathe new life into the Holmes-ian mythology . . . Both Holmes and Russell will have a chance to shine; in fact, the case achieves a rare balance between Holmes, Russell, and the mystery they’ve been set.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Whip-smart, suspenseful and intricately plotted, The Murder of Mary Russell shines a brilliant light on an often overlooked aspect of the Sherlock Holmes universe.”—Shelf Awareness
“A tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for [Laurie R. King’s] readers’ delight.”—LibraryReads (Top Ten Pick)
Praise for the award-winning novels of Laurie R. King
“The great marvel of King’s series is that she’s managed to preserve the integrity of Holmes’s character and yet somehow conjure up a woman astute, edgy, and compelling enough to be the partner of his mind as well as his heart.”—The Washington Post Book World
“The most sustained feat of imagination in mystery fiction today.”—Lee Child
“A lively adventure in the very best of intellectual company.”—The New York Times
“Erudite, fascinating . . . by all odds the most successful re-creation of the famous inhabitant of 221B Baker Street ever attempted.”—Houston Chronicle
“Intricate clockworks, wheels within wheels.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Imaginative and subtle.”—The Seattle Times
“Impossible to put down.”—Romantic Times
“Remarkably beguiling.”—The Boston Globe
About the Author
Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, the Stuyvesant & Grey novels Touchstone and The Bones of Paris, and the acclaimed A Darker Place, Folly, Califia’s Daughters (written under the pen name Leigh Richards), and Keeping Watch. She lives in Northern California.
Top customer reviews
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The story starts with Holmes away, Mrs. Hudson on an errand, and Mary working alone in her garden. She hears a car drive up, and a man identifying himself as Mrs. Hudson's long-lost son, Samuel, greets her. When Mrs. Hudson returns, she finds a still-warm teapot on the stove, pools of blood on the sitting room floor, and no sign of Mary. What happened?
The story jumps back and forth between that story line -- whose blood was it, anyway? -- and the life history of Clara (Clarissa in her younger years) Hudson. To go into much of the story would give away the plot, and I don't want to do that. Suffice it to say that the respectable matron had quite a different life in her younger days! Holmes isn't really involved until the latter half of the book, as he investigates what happened to his wife. Is she dead?
King's recent Holmes/Russell books have had the couple working apart more than together, and this one is no exception. While I prefer the couple to work together, I didn't mind their separation as much with this book as I did with the others because the story of Mrs. Hudson is fascinating. It takes the reader back to the mid- to late 1800s in both Australia and London.
This is a worthy addition to King's long series about Holmes and Russell. While it can be read as a stand-alone book, I urge readers to start with the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, where Holmes and Russell meet, and move forward through the series for a richer experience.
Although, as the title suggests, Mary is in peril from early on, Clara—or Clarissa, as she was originally, according to this story—Hudson definitely takes over the story. King does a fantastic job of developing her as a character and inventing a complex backstory for her, including detailed descriptions of her parents, her sister, her early life, and how she became involved with Holmes. The writing is wonderfully detailed. For instance, here is a description of the doll that Clarissa’s mother, Sally, received from her husband, Timmy Hudson, around the time of Clarissa’s birth, sent from a ship going to Australia on which Timmy was working as a sailor:
“He’d made a dolly longer than her hand, with stubby extremities and a knob for a head, stuffed firm with kapok. Tens of thousands of tight little knots had gone into its making, and a great deal of thought…. She ran her fingers over the little figure’s taut waxed-linen surface, feeling her husband’s hands on every tiny bump. How many hours had this taken him? What had been going on all around him while he worked, what conversations, what kinds of men at his side? Holding it to her face, she could smell the sea and the smouldering lamps, and the tobacco the others had smoked while he worked. She could smell his life, far away.”
The suspense is considerable, the mystery intriguing, and both Mary and Sherlock certainly play their parts—but the story comes alive with special vividness whenever Mrs. Hudson is on stage, which fortunately is most of the time. I would recommend this book, not only to fans of King’s series or of Holmes pastiches in general, but to anyone who wants to read a fascinating character study.
This book is every bit as good as The Beekeeper's Apprentice, if not better, and will make fans of the series as well as fans of the Holmes canon giddy with joy. King spins out an intricate reimagining of the Adventure of the Gloria Scott with every ounce of that perfect mixture of fidelity to the original tale and new emotional insight that she displays at her best.
Mrs Hudson is the central character, and if that seems boring to you (as it did to me), then let me reassure you: the Mrs Hudson of King's imagination is more complex than you've ever considered. The novel follows her from her parents' courtship to her life in the Sussex Downs, including the fateful interlude when she meets an 18-year-old detective hot on the trail of his first real case.
If I had never read a Mary Russell novel, I would have loved this book every bit as much as I do having read every one of them (and some of them until they fell apart). This is Laurie R. King at her best. Read and enjoy.