This is a brilliant second installment to the Hudson and Holmes series, and, rather appropriately, has a festive theme. The bulk of the action occurs between Christmas and New Year, so you simply must read it this instant to fully appreciate the atmosphere.
In this novel Holmes and Watson have been tasked with protecting the precious Malabar Rose gemstone, which a crafty magician is keen to purloin. When it inevitably disappears, said conjurer is locked in the midst of an escapology trick onstage – how could it have been him? And what does all this have to do with a clockwork-toy maker, an Ealing clerk going missing, and the glamorous Lola del Fuego?
I think the risk with having Mrs Hudson being a smart cookie is that it might detract from Holmes, but i think Martin Davies manages to balance both; Holmes isn’t buffoonish, but he doesn’t notice everything that Mrs Hudson does.
I love this book’s wry self-awareness, like the moment when Flottie asks Hetty whether she’d like her to explain what’s going on. Hetty says that she’ll wait until Mrs Hudson sits them all down and explains it at the end – the classic detective-genre denouement.
I’m excited for the next in the series, arriving early 2016.
Can you recommend any other detective novels that subvert expectations? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!