Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

Mrs Hudson and the Malabar Rose by Martin Davies

mrsThis 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!



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Mrs Hudson and the Spirits’ Curse by Martin Davies

Mrs hudsonI 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.




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Celebrating Singledom in Fiction

bromanceOn this most romantic of days, not everyone has a Romeo or Juliet of their own to hand (good thing too, says Mark Vernon as that, like our greatest of love stories is above all else, a tragedy). Love is nice, but there are a myriad of good things about flying solo too.

Think of Sherlock Holmes: intelligent and insightful, there’s simply no space inside his mind-palace for  anyone Jessica fletcher else. Satisfied by a good mystery solved and with plenty of time to cultivate a thriving bromance, I see nothing wrong with Holmes’ way of life. It seems to be a theme amongst the best detectives as Miss Marple, Poirot and Jessica Fletcher are all largely uncoupled. They have time to think, write, travel as they please and grow impressive moustaches, well, in Poirot’s case anyway.

Many of the best characters have other sorts of love in their atticus finchlives. Consider To Kill a Mockingbird’s  Atticus Finch. He’s a compassionate humanitarian who cares deeply for his child, his client and the community, and even has sympathy for the accuser. Miss Honey from Matilda is another example of a loving person; her happy ending is sharing her life with a bright and bookish adopted daughter.

Mary Poppins is a single woman who enjoys her freedom. She swoops in when she feels like it, cheers peopleMP up, meets chimney sweeps and penguins, then flies off on her umbrella when she fancies going elsewhere. A tied down Mary Poppins simply would not do.

Bertie Wooster spends his life trying to avoid being engaged so that he can do as he pleases with his gentleman’s gentleman, the wonderful Jeeves. Though he goes through infatuations, Bertie dreads a woman taking him away from having bun fights at his club and generally having jolly japes. Consider this as exemplar: ‘In fact there was a time when I had an idea I was in love with Cynthia. However, it blew over. A dashed pretty and lively and attractive girl, mind you, but full of ideals and all that.


I may be wronging her, but I have an idea that she’s the sort of girl who would want a fellow to carve out a career and what not. I know I’ve heard her speak favourably of Napoleon. So what with one thing and another the jolly old frenzy sort of petered out, and now we’re just pals. I think she’s a topper, and she thinks me next door to a looney, so everything’s nice and matey.’

Generally, single people have had the time and focus to forge careers, friendships and full lives. The single women of Cranford, Larkrise to Candleford and other such classics have a great time.

Not forgetting Batman – you can’t keep that much secret technology hidden when someone else moves into the manor and he’d have far less time to perch moodily on the high ledges, staring out over the city. 

Most of these people are single most of the time to the best of my knowledge – I’m aware dalliances and trysts may have occurred. Can you think of any more? I’d love to see them in the comments!

Please like and share if you enjoyed this. Thanks!

‘I like being single, I’m always there when I need me.’ – Art Leo

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