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The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King
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The Murder of Mary Russell: 08/21/16

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King is the 14th book in the Mary Russell series. Anyone familiar the Sherlock Holmes series will know to expect that the titular character won't actually end up dead. This book is clearly by title set up to be Mary's Final Problem.

Sherlock Holmes was supposed to die and stay dead at the conclusion of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The fans revolved. The Strand was beside itself. And thus he was revived and his "death" retconned away in "The Empty House."

The Murder of Mary Russell, though, is not a simple combination of The Final Problem and The Empty House, though most of the present day action does literally take place in an empty house. Instead, for reasons that baffle me (and other reviewers), the action is centered on Mrs. Hudson. Not her solving Mary's disappearance, rather her childhood and her life before Sherlock Holmes. In fact, her entire relationship as established in "A Study in Scarlet" is rewritten in a way that feels like it was inspired by Elementary rather than the thirteen books that have built this post-retirement world of Sherlock Holmes.

Long story short, I didn't like Mrs. Hudson's story. The writing was done in a clunky third person. It lacked Mary's vitality. After an amazing shocker of an opening chapter, I was crushed to then see a flash back going back about seventy or so years.

After slogging through about fifty pages of Clarissa "Clara" Hudson's family saga, I got back to a very brief chapter involving Mary and her immediate danger. Suddenly the book was back to being a nail biter.

Rather than keep slogging through Hudson's story, I chose to only read the present day bits. Guess what, just like in The Isle, there is nothing revealed about the plot that isn't later discovered by Mary or Sherlock. These long passages of Hudson's past are just filler. What's actually sitting here is a nice, tight, novella bloated up to novel length.

Two stars

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