Book Review: The House at Baker Street

Author: Michelle Birkby
Read: April 2016
Number of pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Published: 25th February 2016
ISBN: 1509807225
Publisher:  Pan; Main Market Ed. edition
Rating: 

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I was very excited when I saw this book pop up on my amazon account and I must congratulate the author, Michelle Birkby for such a refreshing take on a classic.  I have never clicked on a ‘Buy it Now’ button so quickly. What a fantastic idea to have two characters, Mary Watson and Mrs Hudson, whom we love for different reasons in a traditional Holmes story, now get to take centre stage in their own Novel and see their characters evolve. It is a good detour away from Holmes and Watson stories and like the book suggests, ‘Behind every great detective stands a great woman…’

‘I loved The House at Baker Street. This is the perfect post-Sherlock book: warm, compassionate, intelligent, with plot and language crafted in the style of the Master Conan Doyle himself. Martha Hudson and Mary Watson step off the page, finally given the life they always needed. It’s the kind of book any of us would be proud to have written, but to have done so as a debut is little short of exceptional. Michelle Birkby is a name to watch as she rises to literary stardom – and I can already feel the television adaptation on the way’ – MANDA SCOTT, AUTHOR OF ROME & BOUDICA.

Synopsis: When Sherlock Holmes turns down the case of persecuted Laura Shirley. Mrs Hudson – the landlady of Baker Street – and Mary Watson – the wife of Dr. Watson – resolve to take on the investigation themselves. From the kitchen of 221B Baker Street, the women begin their inquiries and enlist the assistance of the Irregulars and the infamous Irene Adler. A trail of leads lead them to the darkest corners of Whitechapel, where the fearsome Ripper supposedly still stalks. They soon discover Laura Shirley is not the only woman at risk and the lives of many others are in danger too. The investigation becomes bigger than they can imagine, are they just pawns in a much larger game?

Review: As I settled down into reading this new Sherlock adventure with a cuppa I was full of questions. How will it be different? Will it be any good or just a disappointment? I became so absorbed that I now find my steaming tea is very cold. Both Martha Hudson and Mary Watson are believable characters and the plot is a good one, though not perhaps quite of the standard of an original Conan Doyle.  The book doesn’t have the same period feel as the Conan Doyle stories either, but then why should it?  It was written a hundred years later and doesn’t make any pretentious to be the same as the originals.

Mrs Martha Hudson is a pure heroine is there ever was one, she is by far my favourite character in this new adventure and high competition for Mr Holmes himself. It is so lovely to see her inner strength and strong character grow throughout the novel. She is reserved, composed and determined. Fiercely determined and protective of those she loves. We hear of her life before Baker Street. We are slowly given the details of her relationship with the two solid partners in crime and allowed to bear witness to how they love her so, how she is their family, theirs to protect. We learn of the new found friendship with Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson, witness to a strong bond they have for each other and see a more personable side to Miss Irene Adler.

The Irregulars also feature a main part. We see Wiggins and Billy in a light we usually do not seeing and how precious they are to Mrs Hudson.

The ‘case’ is an adventure, the imagery created by the descriptive and detailed writing can be quite vivid at times and gory, but exciting as yet again and again another suspect is added to the list or another body found battered and bruised. Sometimes you think they will not solve the case.

The House at Baker Street is an atmospheric novel with strong characters, stronger relationships, trust, secrets, burglary, murder, blackmail and surprising events. I am already looking forward to the second book. Can not recommend this book enough. A must read for any sherlock fan! For your copy click here.

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