29 December 2016

Murder and revival

Nancy returned from the library recently with a recent Laurie R. King's Mary Russell novel, Murder of Mary Russell. I enthusiastically read the first four of King's novels about police sergeant Kate Marinelli. Great characters and stories. I enjoyed the first four or five of her Mary Russell novels as well. (A teen-aged acolyte of a middle aged Sherlock Holmes? She made it work. And even when, after a few years, the pair married, it worked.)

However, sometime after the 1997 A Letter of Mary, the books were less appealing to me. Maybe it was that A Letter of Mary was so good.

In any case, it's been at least 5 years since I read a Mary Russell novel. And this new one from the library came with good recommendations and it gave me a good excuse to set aside Thomas Perry's A String of Beads. I've read several of Perry's books, and this one, like at least one of the others was a deterrent to sleep. But I wasn't in the mood for one adventure and clever escape after another.

Murder of Mary Russell is a misleading title. In spite of a pool of blood, broken glassware, and Mary Russell's absence, she's not murdered. She's absent from the tale for awhile, but that's not the key.

Mary Gordon as Mrs Hudson
This book is about the background of Clara Hudson, Holmes' housekeeper since forever. It's a story that ranges from London to Australia, Australia to London, and back again a couple times. Thankfully it doesn't recount the voyages. No one should have to read about four months at sea to slow down an already slowly told story.

Things get better in the last third of the book, but reading most of it for me was as dreary as a winter day on the Sussex coast. Not that Mrs. Hudson's past wasn't colorful. She was a beggar, pickpocket, and foil for her father's cons. Quite successful for a time too. Right up until Sherlock Holmes tracked her down. Holmes and Mrs. Hudson were cornered by her father whereupon Clarissa Hudson killed her father and covered up the crime with Holmes' help.

She left England with her infant son for Australia with Holmes' help and returned to England a year of so later, without her son (left with her sister). It's that missing son who appears in the Holmes' house looking for his mother. His threats toward Mary Russell result in the blood on the floor and the absence of Mary Russell.

Enough said. It wasn't great. It fit my mood better than Thomas Perry's succession of deadly hide and seek.

If you like King's writing or are a fan of additions to the world of Sherlock Holmes, you might like Murder of Mary Russell. (library or Half Price books, anyone?) I do wish King would write more Martinelli mysteries.