The Murder of Mary Russell: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Written by Laurie R. King
Review by Viviane Crystal

Who is Mrs. Hudson? Lovers of Sherlock Holmes mysteries always thought she was the kind-hearted, dedicated housekeeper for the Holmes family. But now we learn that Mrs. Hudson’s past justifies the first half of this novel covering her life as a “cheat.” Her real name was Clarissa, the daughter of a demanding father who virtually ignored her until he discovered her acting abilities, complete with whatever appropriate accent was needed. They began to work together in London in the early 1900s, duping innocent tourists or native residents out of their money and jewels. Clarissa’s guilt isn’t strong enough to stop her participation and success in their scurrilous activities. The dreaded day of discovery, however, arrived when young Holmes made an agreement with Clarissa. There is much more than is written here, no spoilers to ruin a great read.

The second half delves into the disappearance of Mary Russell, as well as a trail of blood leading from inside the house to outside it. Sherlock must dig deeply into Mrs. Hudson’s family and acquaintances in order to find the love of his life, if it’s not too late. Tension jumps out of every page, and there are unexpected happenings in different scenes. Clarissa begins her life desperate for her father’s approval and love, but time and daily risks lead her to realize that the consequences of crime and dishonesty are vicious, ironic and potentially absolutely devastating to mostly the innocent. Laurie King truly “gets” the disciplined, fierce investigative powers of Sherlock Holmes and those who oppose him. A wonderful historical fiction read!