Sherlock Holmes Society of London
In Sherlock Holmes pastiches, there is an increasing trend to concentrate not on the Great Detective himself, but on other canonical characters, from police inspectors to Baker Street Irregulars. Susan Knight gives Mrs Hudson centre stage in this tale of murder in the Irish countryside. Feisty, brimming with good common sense and not short of pluck, Knight’s Mrs Hudson is a formidable character and superb story-teller with her own voice, not afraid of speaking up for herself or confiding her opinions to the reader. This is true of all the characters in Knight’s book; each with a story to tell and all with distinct, fleshed out personalities, from the good to the bad and everyone else. The case itself is intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns, and unexpected revelations. For me, however, the beauty of this story lies in the writing and the depth of research and insights into Irish folklore that are scattered lightly, and delightfully, throughout. Rarely do I finish a book in one sitting; on this occasion I had to burn the midnight oil to find out what happened in the end. If Mr Holmes ever worried about his competition, he need only look under his own roof; in Mrs Hudson, he may have well and truly met his match in terms of her investigating skills!
In this extraordinarily well researched book, Ms. Knight manages to combine an engaging mystery with an entertaining introduction to life in Victorian Ireland. With Holmes believed to be somewhere at the bottom of Reichenbach Falls, Mrs. Hudson is happy for the opportunity to accompany her friend and neighbor, Kitty Melrose, to Ireland, there to rescue Kitty's godchild, Lily, from a suspected forced marriage. The two women find the situation everything they feared it might be. In exchange for a parcel of land, Lily is to be married against her will to a brutish neighbor. When said brutish neighbor is found stabbed to death on his wedding night with Lily standing over him with knife in hand, only Mrs. Hudson is certain of Lily's innocence...
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Sherlock Holmes has been missing and presumed dead for some time, and his grief stricken landlady, Mrs Hudson, is anxious for a distraction. However, she is in for a culture shock when she travels to Ireland with her friend Kitty Melrose, to try and stop a forced marriage. What she finds is a countryside steeped in superstition and beliefs in the old ways, a place of fairy forts and holy wells, of changelings and banshees. A place moreover where an impoverished peasantry remains under the heel of oppressive English landlords, but not for much longer.
Times at last are changing. A brutal murder followed by the arrest of someone Mrs Hudson is determined to prove innocent, leads her into mortal danger. At the same time, she is amused to find herself courted by an elderly widower with a roving eye...
You can also read the original series of short stories featuring the world's most famous landlady - Mrs Hudson Investigates.