Series: Mrs. Hudson #1
Genres: Historical, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths
Published by Berkley Source: NetGalley
December 7th 2004 | Pages: 320
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Entering into service as housekeeper for the distinguished investigator Sherlock Holmes and his associate Dr. Watson, Mrs. Hudson expands her duties beyond keeping things tidy.
The great detective's latest client is a traveler recently returned from the Far East-and nearly killed under mysterious circumstances. He says he's under a Sumatran curse that will end his life.
While Holmes and Watson seek a less superstitious solution to the man's dilemma, Mrs. Hudson and Flottie, the orphan girl in her care, take it upon themselves to investigate the case. They are determined to solve the mystery-even if it entails pointing Mrs. Hudson's employers in the right direction.
In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, Mrs. Hudson is the detective’s landlady and housekeeper, a woman much put upon by Sherlock’s odd behaviors and hours, not a fan of murder or excitement. In Martin Davies’ series, she is a sleuth herself. The story is told in the first person by Flottie, Mrs. Hudson’s orphan protege and maid. Mrs. Hudson has saved Flottie from a life on the streets, taught her to read, and given her the skills to support herself, so the older woman can do no wrong in the young girl’s eyes. Mrs. Hudson has worked for many of England’s most powerful families and often helped them with matters of some delicacy, so she has a large group to call on when she may need assistance herself.
When Mrs. Hudson learns that the well-known detective Sherlock Holmes is looking for a housekeeper, she eagerly applies for the job, excited to be around the mysteries, and not caring that the job is actually a step down for someone of her skills. On the first day, Flottie is frightened and Mrs. Hudson intrigued by a visitor asking for Holmes’ help in stopping a Sumatran curse that he believes will kill him and his business partners. Mrs. Hudson looks differently on the evidence than Sherlock and begins her own investigation behind the scenes. In addition to her aristocratic helpers, she is a great friend to the street urchins who run errands and do odd jobs, so she is able to ask questions and boys fan out through the city to get the answers extremely quickly.
As bodies start turning up, Mrs. Hudson cleverly flatters and manipulates Holmes and Watson in efforts to be included in the investigation, and leads them to the truth behind the murders. At times it seems that Holmes is being played for a buffoon, but at others he appears to know exactly what Mrs. Hudson is up to and the two have an unspoken agreement acknowledging her skills and keeping the knowledge from Dr. Watson.
Mrs. Hudson is smart, efficient, and kind, without being hovering or grandmotherly. She enjoys luxurious things and accepts gifts of wine and whisky from a former employer on a daily basis. Her duties as housekeeper don’t suffer while she is out doing what she loves, detecting. Flottie is also a great character, growing in confidence as she gains employable skills and better health through nutrition and a good home. Holmes and Watson are presented in a similar manner to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s perspective, with Holmes often arrogant about figuring things out and Watson admiringly befuddled. Martin Davies has written a second book about this heroine, Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose, in addition to other novels.