Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

The Murder of Mary Russell (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Book #14)
by Laurie R. King
Release Date: April 5th 2016
2016 Bantam
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0804177900
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell’s faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell’s sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson’s past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper’s secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.

My Thoughts
The Murder of Mary Russell is the fourteenth book in a very delightful series, and one which I somewhat enjoyed although it is very different than some of the previous Mary Russell novels. I do have to admit that I thought the mystery in this one was not up to par, and I do think the title is very misleading. 

Although I love the escapades of Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell, it was nice to read about Mrs. Hudson's background and how she got involved with Holmes; and it was not quite what I would have expected either. I mean, Mrs. Hudson has always just been there, whenever she was needed, and to be honest, I never really gave it much thought as to how she ended up there, but I should have known it would be something interesting. Most of the story is Mrs. Hudson's backstory, and while I did find it quite interesting, it didn't really draw me in like the previous novels in this series; there were times when I started flipping forward to see when we would get to the parts that involved Holmes and Russell, and I hate doing that.  I also thought the author tried too hard to make Holmes and Mrs. Hudson seem too naive and young during the earlier years, and it didn't come across the way I think it was meant.  I think the author was trying to show that Holmes was not always the cool, calculated person he was now, but in his youth was somewhat inexperienced and tended to panic, but somehow it didn't quite come out the way it was meant, and I found myself shaking my head a few times over some of the scenes.  

I normally love the Mary Russell mysteries and have enjoyed all of them, but sadly, this one was not for me.  Every author can have one of those books in a series that doesn't hit the mark, and this one is it for me; the mystery, the pacing, the clever dialogue, everything felt off.   I thought the mystery was poorly plotted, at least compared to the previous ones, and while Mrs. Hudson's relationship with Holmes is full of secrets, the mystery of Mary Russell is also one full of secrets, both of which kind of left a bad feeling in my mouth. I was a little disappointed in how Holmes and Mrs. Hudson's relationship was perceived by the author; Mrs. Hudson's value actually rose in my eyes after learning more about her and I'm not quite sure what to think about Holmes after this.

The Murder of Mary Russell is definitely not up to the quality we are used to seeing in a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes novel; in fact, I was kind of disappointed.  While the writing was up to par, the clever repartee between the characters was missing, and I wasn't a big fan of the mystery.  And while I never really thought too much about Mrs. Hudson's background, I would have hoped for something a bit better than threats would have kept her at Holmes' side through the years, so I was a bit disappointed in her story line.  Because I have been a fan for such a long time, I am hoping the next book in the series will encapsulate what we all love about the Holmes and Russell series, and that this one was just a misstep, but one that I would definitely not recommend to others.    


  1. Come to think of it, who really does pay much mind to Mrs. Hudson's background? Good review.