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Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose

by Martin Davies

      Fresh from their adventures in the debut novel Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse, the unconventional Baker Street household is back for another tongue-in-cheek tale. Everybody wants to see three things in London this particular Christmas - the Great Salamanzar's magic show, Lola Del Fuego's risqué dancing and fabulous ruby Malabar Rose, the Maharaja of Majoudh's gift to the queen. Trouble is, whenever the Great Salamanzar performs, jewels mysteriously vanish so surely the two occurrences are too coincidental not to mean trouble? Mrs. Hudson seems more interested in the disappearance of a young man in Ealing, and the fabulous stock of an obscure toymaker. Surely none of it can be linked? Sherlock Holmes certainly doesn't seem to think so...

Just like the first novel and most other things to do with Holmes this is great fun, and just the thing to actually be reading by the fire at Christmas time. Told again in the first person by Mrs. Hudson's assistant Flotsam, this is another exposé of what really went on in Baker Street - and the fact that Holmes is just as bumbling (though a lot more opinionated) as Watson makes it highly amusing. But it is not all laughs, and there is a good, puzzling story in here that has more incident than the first book and no treading water. This is a real winter's tale of foggy streets, strange disappearances, a wonderful description of a sinister toymaker, flamboyant theatricals and a baffled Scotland Yard. Nobody could call this cozy tale realistic, with Flottie's lessons from a peer of the realm, chasing tropical butterflies with his ditzy girlfriend and the sort of Victorian setting that ought to have been realistic even if it isn't. Who cares with a tale as good as this? Curl up by your fireside and get stuck in; I will definitely be looking out for book three.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin Group)
August 2005
Historical Crime [1880s, London]
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2005
© 2005