The Women of Baker Street: A Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson Investigation
The Women of Baker Street is an entertaining historical thriller set in Victorian London. It is based on the Arthur Conan Doyle characters Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson. Told from the perspective of Mrs Hudson, Sherlock Holmes’ landlady, this is the second book in a series where the women solve their own cases. (I hadn’t read the first, but this book can stand entirely on its own.)
The novel opens with Mrs Hudson going into hospital. On the first night, dazed with drugs and pain, she sees what might have beenbe a murder, but in the light of day convinces herself that it had been a morphine-induced nightmare. However, what starts as little more than a game—observing the other patients in the ward to see how much she can deduce about them— takes a more sinister turn as she realises that there are more deaths than usual in the ward. Mary Watson, the wife of Dr Watson, has her own mystery to solve;: the disappearance of a number of boys from a variety of backgrounds. Sharing their concerns, the two women gradually uncover a series of links between the investigations, culminating in a gruesome find in Regent’s Park and leading them to discover the truth behind both mysteries.
With The Women of Baker Street, Michelle Birkby has created a fast-paced, entertaining and eminently readable novel. The central characters are likeable and well-rounded, and the first-person narrative gives the story an immediacy that is very appealing. I have to admit to finding some of the plot twists a little far-fetched, but this did not stop me from enjoying the book tremendously.