The Murder of Mary Russell is built on the Sir Conan Doyle original, The Adventure of the Gloria Scott. The reader quickly learns that the man saved from the shipwreck of the Gloria Scott by the name of Hudson was none other than the father of the iconic Mrs. Hudson. We’re also taken back to the time a young Clarissa Hudson spent her days as a petty criminal, long before she met Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Mary Russell.
I believe there has been a huge gap in my mystery library, as The Murder of Mary Russell has been my introduction to King and her wonderful take on the world of all things Holmes, including his captivating equal, Mary Russell. Mary is so much more than Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, she is bright, wise, strong, and interesting enough, that it leaves me feeling zero doubt that the series is truly focused on her, not her more well known husband. In this particular book though, the story is truly that of Mrs. Hudson, her relatively secret past, and how it influences her (and those she loves) in the present.
A knock on the door of the country farmhouse where the Holmeses reside is opened by Mary to a stranger, a Mr. Samuel Hudson. He wastes no time in forever changing the lives of Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson as he holds his gun to Mary’s head and throws around a most particular set of demands. Mary plays along, biding her time as she prepares mentally and physically to fight for her life. What the opening scene sets in motion is a wonderfully written set of events that jump around in both time and location.
I don’t want to give too much away, but this mystery captivated my attention and I struggled to put it down every evening. I think even Doyle would be interested to see the characters and world he created through Laurie King’s eyes. The Murder of Mary Russell is the best mystery I’ve read so far this year. While the story works as a standalone book, I will be correcting my error by going back and starting with the first book in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.