The Murder of Mary Russell - Laurie R. King

I received this book for free as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. I dithered between a 4 and a 5 star rating for this one. I try to reserve that rating for books that wow me, or greatly move me or impress me. I can't quite say that of this one and yet...

 

This has been a favorite series since the first book of it I read "A Letter of Mary" and the first of the series that I read later, "The Beekeeper's Apprentice." They are about the only Holmes pastiches I've ever enjoyed and I enjoy it on several levels. Slipping into the best books in this series is like visiting with old friends. It's wildly uneven, and there were times I feared the series was jumping the shark, but then it would delight me with it's old brilliance. I think part of why the series has stayed vital is because King isn't afraid to take chances, to change up the formula. Sometimes it may misfire, but it keeps it fresh.

 

And as far as I'm concerned, this ranks with the best such as "Beekeeper's Apprentice" and "Justice Hall." It's not typical of the series--we do get some chapters from Mary's first person perspective. They're few and far between after that first chapter which leaves us with a gun pointed at Mary--and I'd say it was almost unbearable waiting to return to her point of view to find out what happened--except for one thing. This isn't Mary's story--it's Mrs Hudson's--and it's compelling. As fine an "origin" story as a Holmes fan could wish for and in that sense giving the pleasure of fan fiction as it uses material from the Conan-Doyle tale "The Gloria Scott." It's not what I'd have expected as a history for Mrs Hudson, but given this is Holmes' close associate, yes, it fits. And it, and the ending was enormously satisfying. Thus the five stars.