The House at Baker Street (Mrs. Hudson & Mary Watson)
by Michelle Birkby
Review by Gayle Surrette
Harper Perennial Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062680198
Date: 24 September 2017
Have you ever wondered about the women in Sherlock Holmes' life? Mrs. Hudson has been his landlady and housekeeper since he and Dr. Watson moved into 221B Baker Street. When Dr. Watson married, he moved out to his own residence, but still spent many hours at Baker Street. It was inevitable that Mary Watson, the doctorís new wife, would become friends with Mrs. Hudson.
So, what did Mrs. Watson and Mary Watson do while Holmes and Watson discussed their cases, chased clues, and solved cases? It turns out that voices carry through the vents in old homes and the kitchen was a good place to overhear what went on when Holmes and Watson were having discussions with clients.
Listening in was excitement enough until the day Laura Shirley came to ask Holmes for help. She was embarrassed and afraid and Holmes demanded the absolute truth and told her to leave as he couldn't help her. Mary and Mrs. Hudson met the Laura in the hall and took her to the kitchen for tea and comfort. They were told the full story. She was being persecuted by a man. Threatened really. He said he'd give her letters to her husband and proved he had them by giving her one. It was her handwriting and signature, even her stationary, but she hadn't written the vile contents of the letter. If the other letters were of a similar nature, it would destroy her marriage.
On the spot, Mrs. Hudson and Mary vowed to help Laura. They enlisted the help of the Baker Street Irregulars and later the assistance of Irene Adler. The more they looked into the case the more it seemed that many more women and men were being threatened by this mysterious man. Some of the victims had committed suicide rather than face the release of the letters they hadn't written. Eventually this persecutor resorted to violence and the women linked several deaths to his hand.
Told from Mrs. Hudson's point of view, readers will get a real feel for the roles women were allowed in this time period. The frustrations of having abilities and skills that needed to be hidden in order to be considered a proper gentlewoman. Mary and Mrs. Hudson must use their wits and determination to solve this crime and get justice for those being harmed. The danger is very real. The characters all act as you'd expect from reading the Conan Doyle stories but finally these two minor characters get to have their own case.
Iím really looking forward to more stories featuring Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson.