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Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose ePub

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I a sucker for most anything Sherlock Holmes. I've read all the original stories, I've seen most TV adaptations, I've read spinoff books of various kinds, and even books where Doyle himself is a protagonist.

I am, for lack of a better term, a Sherlock Holmes slut.

So, when I saw this book on the shelves at Library 2, I had to take it home and read it.

Sherlock Holmes is a great detective, honored by all and sundry. But what if his housekeeper was no slouch in the investigation field herself. When a man dissapears at the same time a valuable jewel is to be shown to the public, it's hard for one man to keep track of it all. Enter Mrs. Hudson, to see if things are as simple as they appear, leaving the important work to her employer. Or did she?

The story itself is told by a young female urchin that Mrs. Watson takes in, which works until the author needs to let us in on things she couldn't know first-hand, so we get a quickie third-person narration switch, with an all-too-convenient "So Dr. Watson (or whoever) told me later" thrown in to save face. That's a cheap trick that no editor should have allowed. Flotsam, Mrs. Hudson's Dr. Watson, helps her decifer the little domestic clues that Sherlock can't notice, starting off by trying to help a distressed mother-in-law and eventually seeing that the two seemingly disparate stories are quite linked. Throw in an exotic dancing girl, a famous magician, and some butterflies, and you have a tight story that more or less comes together without too much of a leap in logic. I do think he forgot to explain how the marked ace gets into the room, but that's not terribly important.

The trouble in all this is that while it's great that Mrs. Hudson can solve crimes as well as her boss, Holmes himself comes off as a bit of an idiot. He's missing links that should come naturally to him and not following his own detecting rules. But at least he's still smart, more than I can say for poor Dr. Watson, who gets put in the ghetto of comic relief. John Watson is a smart man, and we're told that repeatedly by Doyle. There was no need to dumb him down, and his scenes, such as they were, are painful to read.

Overall, I liked the plot a lot and I think the concept is sound. But there was a better way to get Mrs. Hudson involved than making Holmes look like an ass, and it should have either been totally third-person narration or totally first person. Writing 101 tells you to pick a narration style and deal with its limitations. Mr. Davies did not do that.

Trebby's Take: One for the Doyle fanboys, but if you're not hard-core Holmes, it's okay to pass on this one. I do plan to read Mr. Davies' other book in the series.
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