The latest installment in King's Sherlock Holmes-Mary Russell series takes a hard turn and is not at all what the reader expects from the series. At the start, we are confronted with a situation between Russell and a man who introduces himself as Mrs. Hudson's son Samuel. Russell had no idea that Holmes' housekeeper of many, many years even had a son, much less one who hailed from Australia. And still less one who would want to do her - and all whom she loves - irreparable harm. Russell knows that Samuel intends to kill her, and all the evidence when poor Mrs. Hudson arrives home points to that unfortunate end for Mary Russell. It isn't certain that even the great detective himself will be able to piece together the clues.
The story then jumps back many years, to the days before the birth of Clara Hudson - nee Clarissa - and her shocking and convoluted past. Slowly, we catch up to Clara and Samuel Hudson and are able to understand what brought them - and Russell and Holmes - to this pass. This is a deeply complex puzzle and one that will take all the skill of more than one detective to put together.
This is a deeply compelling story, for all that it leaves Russell and Holmes sitting in the wings for the majority of it. Mrs. Hudson's story reveals a dark past and numerous secrets, all of which both she and Holmes have kept quiet about for years. But it is now time for a reckoning, and Russell, unwittingly, gets pulled straight into the middle of it.
All Holmes-Russell fans must read this novel, but they should be forewarned that it is not at all what they will be expecting. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! King is, as always, brilliant.