The Murder of Mary Russell – Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway

April 5, 2016 Book Reviews, Excerpt, Giveaway 14 ★★★★★

The Murder of Mary Russell – Review, Excerpt, & GiveawayThe Murder of Mary Russell Series: Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #14
on April 5, 2016
Pages: 384
Purchase: Amazon
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Also in this series: Locked Rooms, Dreaming Spies, Locked Rooms, Riviera Gold, Mary Russell's War: And Other Stories of Suspense, The Lantern's Dance

Laurie R. King’s bestselling Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series weaves rich historical detail and provocative themes with intriguing characters and enthralling suspense. Russell and Holmes have become one of modern literature’s most beloved teams. But does this adventure end it all?

Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell’s faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson’s son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell’s sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson’s past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper’s secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.

There is death here, and murder, and trust betrayed.

And nothing will ever be the same.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.


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Oh. My. Gosh.


I’m sitting here gobsmacked, having just finished The Murder of Mary Russell, trying to figure out how on earth to review its awesomeness without giving anything away.

Because this book would be so incredibly easy to spoil. And I so, so don’t want to do that. I want you to experience all the trepidation, suspense, and surprise, all the love and delight and grief that I felt for these characters while reading it.

But I can’t tell you why without ruining the book for you. So what can I tell you?

OK, let me start with a warning. Don’t read The Murder of Mary Russell  until you’ve read at least The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and A Monstrous Regiment of Women — and that’s at a bare minimum. Not that you wouldn’t be able to follow the story if you came into the series now, but The Murder of Mary Russell will matter so much more to you if you already know and love the characters. I also recommend (re)reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott,” because certain events will make much more sense if you have.

And here’s another warning: when you sit down to read The Murder of Mary Russell, be prepared to spend a lot of the book in the past. We finally get a look at Mrs. Hudson’s backstory — a really good, long, in-depth look. Structurally, the novel goes back and forth between chapters in the present and large chunks set in the past, until well past the half-way mark. As you can imagine, that means we also see something of Holmes as a young man just starting out in detection, and even quite a bit of Billy, his former Irregular. Ms. King is nothing short of brilliant in fleshing out these earlier, younger versions of characters we know so well, making their individual pasts consistent with what we learned of them from her other books while still introducing plenty of surprises.

Be prepared for suspense, too. The title alone tells you that: Is the titular murder of Mary, or by Mary, or merely solved by Mary? You won’t know for a very long time… so I hope you’re either a fast reader or you’re able to live with uncertainty. (You could peek, of course. I’m totally not admitting whether I did. But I recommend against it.)

Finally, be prepared. This isn’t a mystery, exactly. Or rather, it is a mystery, and it’s more than a mystery. Yes, of course there’s the whole question of whose blood is on the floor, and who, if anyone, is dead, but that’s only part of what makes The Murder of Mary Russell impossible to put down. In significant ways, it is as much a fictional biography or a character study as a mystery novel. It will make you uncomfortable at times; it will make you sad; it will even make you laugh. Above all, it will shake up your whole mental picture of these characters and lay it down in a slightly different configuration.

And truly? Nothing will ever be the same.



Bantam (Random House) has generously offered me one copy of The Murder of Mary Russell to give away! You can enter using the Giveaway Tool below. The giveaway ends Monday, April 18, at 11:59 EDT. Good luck!



About Laurie R. King

photo of Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 novels and other works, including the Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes stories (from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, named one of the 20th century’s best crime novels by the IMBA, to 2020’s Riviera Gold). She has won an alphabet of prizes from Agatha to Wolfe, been chosen as guest of honor at several crime conventions, and is probably the only writer to have both an Edgar and an honorary doctorate in theology. She was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars in 2010, as “The Red Circle.”

A full list of Ms. King’s awards and honors may be found here..

Mary Russell blogs at, and tweets as @mary_russell..

Laurie R. King can be found on at the following sites:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2016

14 Responses to “The Murder of Mary Russell – Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway”

  1. holdenj

    Looks fantastic and thanks for the recommendations about what to read first!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Well, I’d really recommend reading the entire series in (publication) order, but you could get away with just the first few. 🙂 I hope you’ll go back and read them all, though – it’s a wonderful series!

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      They are indeed! The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (book #1) is one of those books I recommend to practically everyone who asks (and a lot of people who don’t!)

  2. Pat Walker Pinkston

    New series for me, but looking forward to reading them.



    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Good luck! And go check out The Beekeeper’s Apprentice while you’re waiting to see if you’ve won — you will be glad you did!

  4. Marilyn Watson

    Loved the first book and I look forward to this one…please enter me. I adore historical mysteries and I have read the whole Sherlock Holmes Series several times. Thank you for the contest.