“King forswears the foreign intrigue that’s increasingly dominated her Sherlock-ian pastiches (Dreaming Spies, 2015, etc.) to return to the great man’s roots, which are surprisingly intertwined with those of his longtime landlady. An apparently innocent knock at the door of the retired Holmes’ farmhouse brings his wife, Mary Russell, face to face with a rough-hewn Australian who…pulls a gun.
“The real star is Clara Hudson,” and “the fateful moment when her path crosses that of the young Sherlock Holmes.” She is a character “whose touching, remarkable, and wholly absorbing life story offers not only a high point in King’s long-running series, but a compelling demonstration of the ways inventive writers can continue to breathe new life into the Holmes-ian mythology.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“… there’s blood on the floor of Russell and Holmes’ house in Sussex, thanks to the appearance of Samuel Hudson, the son of the couple’s longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson. Perhaps to readers’ surprise, the focus of this novel is that same Mrs. Hudson, who, in the original Conan Doyle stories as well as in the earlier installments in King’s series, has spent most of her time making tea and bringing in the mail. Now we learn about her suspect background as well as her tangled relationship with Holmes. It’s a well-crafted tale with occasional interruptions that unravel Mary’s fate. In a triumph of plotting, King also incorporates characters and information from an original Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott”…. fans, always hungry to know more personal details about King’s iteration of Sherlock Holmes and his world, will get a few more delicious tidbits this time around.”
—Booklist (starred review)