Review – The Murder of Mary Russell

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

Author: Laurie R. King
Bantam Books
2016
ISN # 978-0-80417790-0

The Murder of Mary Russell cover

I thought long and hard before deciding to review this book. I am a lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes books and movies, and thought I had gone to heaven when King’s Mary Russell series crossed my path. From the beginning of the advertising campaign, I was uncomfortable with the thought that there was a possibility of Mary Russell being killed off, and the series most likely ending. The book itself killed off something within myself, and my enjoyment with the continuity of characters (who and what they were). We see Mrs. Hudson as a motherly/grandmotherly type, who watches out for Russell and Holmes – someone that can be counted on.

The Murder of Mary Russell begins with Russell at home, alone. A car drives up – she thinks that it might be Patrick and Mrs. Hudson, coming back for something that Mrs. Hudson may have forgotten before going shopping. Instead, it is a stranger, a very bold stranger, with an Australian accent, asking about Mrs. Hudson.

Russell lets the stranger in, and offers him tea. The next thing we know, Mrs. Hudson is home from her shopping, staring down at blood on the floor, a knife sticking out of the mantel, and Russell absent.

What follows creates the backstory for Mrs. Hudson, from her parents history, through difficult times in London, to being “saved” by a very young Sherlock Holmes. It covers her time in Australia, her sister, and her son. And a boy that becomes like a son to her. It also creates a part of Sherlock Holmes personal backstory that we did not know.

Why is Samuel (Mrs. Hudson’s son) coming back into her life at this point? What is he looking for? And to what ends will he go to get what he wants?

The writing is superb, as always. The characters have breadth and depth, the scenes are believable, and the historical elements are strong and accurate. From a written standpoint, the book carries King’s well know quality and accuracy.  My problem – and it is a problem – is that the staid Mrs. Hudson is portrayed as an individual with many faces. Indeed, as a consummate actress. So – have all of her years as Holmes housekeeper been false? Is there an agenda here?

I was not happy with the promotion of this book, and was disappointed that King decided to create a backstory for an integral character to this series that went against everything she had been presented as being, both in the various Sherlock Holmes books, and in the various Sherlock Holmes movies. This is a good mystery, but I feel adds nothing to this series.

© April 2016 Bonnie Cehovet

Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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