Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

London, Late 19th Century

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse

by Martin Davies

In this story, it is Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock Holmes housekeeper, who is the brains behind the “great detective.” The case presented is a series of murders connected to a Sumatra curse made against three young men who recently have returned to England from the Near East. Using all her practical daily life smarts, plus her connections to her working class peers, Mrs. Hudson finds clues which lead to solutions that seem beyond the abilities of Holmes and Dr. Watson. As she tells them, “I’ve had years of experience that you gentlemen don’t have, so it’s hardly surprising I see things in a kitchen that are beneath the attention of your investigations.” This is fun, but it is disturbing to have Holmes so inept, his self described “rigorously trained intellect” so shockingly missing.

The author gives the narrative voice to the household scullery maid, Flotsom (Flottie). It is through Flottie that we learn of the abusive lives of London’s poor orphan girls, effectively contrasted with that of her pampered upper class friend, Miss Peters. Flottie’s vocabulary and insights, however, sometimes exceed what one would expect from a girl Mrs. Hudson saved from the streets. Example: “I found myself imaging the steaming isolation of the island working gradually on the little group of Britons until it had stripped away from them the veneer of civilization they had brought with them, the very thing they used to justify their contempt for those around them.” The other speech patterns and general tone of the story is pure Holmes - foggy London streets, dark Victorian style houses, horse drawn hansoms trying to maneuver through muddy streets and milling crowds. And typical Holmes London underground characters appear along side unscrupulous British merchants and imperial types out to make their fortunes abroad.

Author’s first book.

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