I love a bit of fictional revisionism, especially when women triumph. I am thus delighted by The Holmes and Hudson series wherein Mrs Hudson proves herself to crucial to solving Sherlock’s cases. Mrs Hudson and the Spirits’ Curse is witty, pacey and involving. The central mystery concerns a tropical curse, a series of locked door murders, and a rather shifty butler.
I particularly enjoyed the brief, unelaborated allusions to past mysteries she’s solved that are just casually slipped in:
‘Had she not realised the importance of the half-eaten omlette and the train ticket for Bodmin, we would never have discovered the bungalow near Scarborough, and Bertie would most certainly have committed bigamy with the undercook.’
What I love most about Mrs Hudson is that her domestic knowledge is part of her superior intellect: she sees things that a gentleman wouldn’t see; she has an army of grocers’ lads and errand boys to give her the word on the street. The juxtaposition of detection and domestic is glorious; every now and then she will whip out a vital piece of evidence that she’s put in the cutlery drawer for safe keeping.
As is the convention in detective fiction, the novels are narrated by an involved, but not titular character. In this case, the housemaid, Flotsam, which nicely mirrors the Sherlock/Watson relationship. Flottie is a great character: observant, sharp and willing to learn.
It’s a great idea, nicely done, and ideal for a long winter evening. I’m reading the next in the series as soon as I’ve finished typing this.