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Review of Mrs Hudson’s Olympic Triumph

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a fanatic for the traditional and authentic and Canonical Sherlock Holmes. As a rule I avoid anything with parody, or that presents Holmes as anything but a hero. I simply ignore most of these Alternate Universe tales, while other I actively despise. (Hint: I’m referring to the BBC show “Sherlock”.)

But there are a very few non-traditional versions that I acknowledge for being very well done, even if they aren’t about The True Sherlock Holmes. For instance, I truly enjoy watching and re-watching the film “Without a Clue” (1988) starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley. It isn’t the True Holmes, but it’s excellent nevertheless. The same can be said for M.J. Trow and his skewed and wrong (but funny) look at a very defective Holmes through the eyes of his series hero, Inspector Sholto Lestrade. And another Alternate Universe version of The World of Holmes that I can recommend is the Mrs. Hudson series by Barry S. Brown.

There have been a number of other Mrs. Hudson adventures over the years. For instance, Sydney Hosier wrote four books in his own Mrs. Hudson series – but what makes those different from Barry Brown’s is that she is still the landlady of 221 Baker Street who just happens to become involved in mysteries. Barry Brown’s books are something different … .

The premise is simple: It’s Mrs. Hudson who is the true sleuth of Baker Street, rather than Holmes. Through the entire series of books, she leads the way, with Holmes, Watson, and even Mycroft in support. In some ways, these books mimic the scheme of “Without A Clue”, with Mrs. Hudson as the behind-the-scenes brains instead of Dr. Watson. Still, it’s a very fresh perspective on the Holmesian world.

In “Mrs. Hudson’s Olympic Triumph”, the fifth in Barry Brown’s series, the Baker Street Triumvirate – Hudson, Holmes, and Watson – travel to Greece at the behest of Mycroft Holmes – the only man who is in-the-know about their unusual arrangement – in time for the 1896 Olympics, the first to be held since ancient times. Of course, as is the way of these things, their mission is immediately complicated by murder. They each play their parts, and the truth is revealed in a most excellent manner!

I’m glad that MX Publishing is issuing these volumes anew, and in handsome uniform editions. MX is the premier Sherlockian publisher in the world, and can give these books the home that they deserve.

Reviewed by David Marcum

Mrs Hudson’s Olympic Triumph is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.  In ebook format it is in KindleKoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone). Also available on Audio.

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Out today – Mrs Hudson Investigates

A distraught young woman arrives at Baker Street urgently requesting the assistance of Mr Sherlock Holmes. But the great man and his assistant Dr Watson are away. What to do? She confides in Holmes’s landlady, Mrs Hudson, who over the years has developed certain powers of deduction from observing her tenant at work. The young woman, responding to this, begs her for help. Reluctantly, Mrs Hudson agrees…

Thus begins a series of adventures, recounted engagingly by Mrs Hudson herself. Adventures and investigations which take her across the country, from the Midlands to Sydenham, from Eastbourne to Edinburgh. Her warmth and down-to-earth practicality are brought to bear on a range of strange and startling crimes that occasionally lead even Mrs Hudson herself into mortal danger.

Mrs Hudson Investigates is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.

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Review of The Unpleasantness at Parkerton Manor – A Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street Mystery Book 1

I always had a rather unorthodox view of the third most featured character in the Sherlock Holmes Canon – Mrs. Hudson, landlady of the best known address in English literature: 221B Baker Street.  I imagined her as a younger, more involved and most knowledgeable and perceptive character.

Barry S. Brown has taken Mrs. Hudson to a delightfully higher level in this series and casts her as the brains behind Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. The canny middle-aged Cockney widow of deceased police constable, Tobias Hudson, creates her own consulting detective agency and hires Holmes and his friend, Watson as her “front men”.  Holmes takes the lead in a rather dramatic and occasionally humourous fashion whilst steady and dependable Watson takes copious notes of their exploits for Mrs. Hudson’s expert edification and review. In posing as the housekeeper, she can listen in on client consultations whilst serving refreshments.

The Unpleasantness at Parkerton Manor begins with a visit from Lady Parkerton to 221B. She believes that her husband, Sir Stanley, the wealthy inventor of the binaural stethoscope, did not die from natural causes, but from poisoning. But the family ate from the same food and drink and suffered no ill effects. There is no dearth of suspects within the immediate family or the servants.  Each has something to benefit from the demise of the victim, be it financially, professionally or both – even Lady Parkerton herself.

Holmes and Watson travel to the country manor of the Parkerton’s to interview possible suspects and gather evidence.  In what begins as a typical “country house” setting for a murder, more complex developments begin to occur. The inexplicable murder of the family’s coachman whilst Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are on the scene is but one and the absconding of the direct heir and his family is another.

In a fascinating twist, Mr. Brown gives the reader an introduction to malevolent head-hunters and the White Raja of Sarawak – a true-to-life character from Malaysia.

Mrs. Hudson stays at a hotel close to the action and meets with Holmes and Watson to debrief her on their activities and discoveries and to provide direction regarding next steps. Whilst staying on the periphery, she focuses her attention on Sir Charles’ and the coachman’s murders.

Mr. Brown also places Inspector Lestrade on the scene since he is on a holiday with his wife in the area. The local constabulary welcomes the Scotland Yard man on the case, much to the chagrin of Holmes and Watson. But the pair manages to remain one step ahead and Dr. Watson even informs Holmes that he is actually becoming quite a good detective in yet another lighthearted moment.

Barry S. Brown has very successfully given us a refreshing view of the residents of 221B Baker Street. He is quite convincing in his depiction of the characters in their new roles. Mr. Brown’s writing skill makes for highly dramatic and suspense-filled scenes interspersed with an occasional wry sense of humour. He also introduces the reader to well-researched, exotic locales and actual historical characters.  His unique point-of-view provides the audience with a change from the typical pastiche, yet retains the voice and atmosphere of the original Canonical work.

I was so entertained by Barry S. Brown’s work that I purchased book 2 of the “Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street Mystery” series. There are now 5 books in the series and I am pleased to say that book 6 is coming soon.

Review by Wendy Heyman–Marsaw, author, Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen

The Unpleasantness at Parkerton Manor is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in KindleKoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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Memoirs From Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen

Mrs. Hudson is possibly the most famous landlady in literature.  Presiding over the comings and goings at 221B Baker Street, she saw many clients, villains and Baker Street irregulars during the tenancy of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This series of columns, thoughts, recipes and memoirs are from a long-running column in the Sherlockian journal, Canadian Holmes. In it the author, Wendy Heyman-Marsaw, puts herself in Mrs. Hudson’s shoes, up and down the 17 steps and recounts not only the time and era but the food, dining and eating habits of Victorian England. This book explores the meals Mrs. Hudson would have prepared and served her two famous lodgers, what food they would have had while on rail journeys or eating at hotels around London or inns around England.  You will also learn about Mrs. Hudson herself, her husband and even her views towards women’s roles and rights in Victorian times. With many illustrations from the Strand Magazine, readers will get a rare peek inside Victorian life.

“Ms. Heyman-Marsaw has done an incredible job of gathering Mrs. Hudson’s comments and recipes, and editors JoAnn and Mark Alberstat have assembled the pieces into a very pleasing whole. I’m very glad to have this volume in my collection, both for Mrs. Hudson’s own thoughts, and also for the chance to try some of the recipes.” – David Marcum

Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle KoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone). Available in Audio .

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The Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews Memoirs from Mrs Hudson’s Kitchen

Memoirs from Mrs Hudson’s Kitchen by Wendy Heyman-Marsaw. MX Publishing, 2017. 130pp ‘From Mrs Hudson’s Kitchen’ has been a popular feature in Canadian Holmes, the journal of the Bootmakers of Toronto, since 2011. The chapters in this attractive, nicely illustrated book are expanded and rearranged from those columns. Mrs H’s narrative, friendly and level-headed, gives a good picture of what life must have been like for an intelligent lower-middle class landlady catering for an eccentric genius in late Victorian London. She tells us what food and drink she served her lodgers, and what would have been available to them on railway journeys and at hotels or inns. And there are nearly sixty recipes, all authentic and practical. It’s a very nice new volume for the Holmesian cook’s bookshelf — though perhaps we should avoid the tobacco cookies.

Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble USA, Amazon UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. Available in Audio and Kindle formats.

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Mrs. Hudson – Who Are You Really?

 Mrs. Hudson – Who Are You Really?

By Barry S Brown

The mystery surrounding Mrs. Hudson’s identity has been well and frequently described. What we know from Watson’s own words is that Mrs. Hudson is the “long-suffering” landlady at 221B Baker Street, an extraordinarily patient woman able to tolerate her lodger’s “incredible untidiness, … addiction to music at strange hours, … occasional revolver practice within doors, … weird and malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him ….”

In the end, however, the references to Mrs. Hudson are most remarkable for their scarcity. As described in James C. O’Leary’s informative blog post, Mrs. Hudson appears in only 11 of the 60 stories describing Holmes’ cases, speaks just three times, and is accorded a mere 26 lines of dialogue. Her silence is deafening – and, for some of us, unbelievable.

I refer to a school of thought that might be characterized as conspiratorial – if not downright paranoid. That school – in which I confess to be the prime, if not sole student – views Mrs. Hudson as the true, if unheralded, sage of Baker Street. We need to recall that Mrs. Hudson would have been exposed to the Victorian bias against women generally, and women of a certain class particularly. What the scarcity of words about the landlady has long obscured is that Mrs. Hudson was nonetheless determined to be the mistress of her own fate. As is now revealed in the slender volume, Mrs. Hudson in New York – fortuitously available from Amazon and fine bookstores everywhere – Mrs. Hudson is the true creative force behind the foremost consulting detective agency in London, if not the world. Based on skills in investigation and deduction acquired from exercises in the analysis of crime with her late constable husband, her capacity for informed observation – and the careful recruitment of a tall self-confident chemist as the essential male figurehead for her agency, she becomes engaged, with Holmes and Watson, in unraveling the complex problems brought to the doorstep of 221B Baker Street or encountered in far off New York City.

More about the person I choose to regard as the woman can be found at the Facebook page devoted to her exploits – Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street Information about the person who has, without regard for his personal safety, made these truths available is located at BarrySBrown.

The above prepared on behalf of Barry S Brown

Barry Brown is the author of the Mrs Hudson series of novels including Mrs Hudson in New York which is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USA Amazon UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .  In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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Mrs. Hudson – Who Are You Really?

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Mrs. Hudson – Who Are You Really?

 By Barry S Brown

The mystery surrounding Mrs. Hudson’s identity has been well and frequently described. Her ancestry is unknown—although suspected by some to be Scottish; her age is unknown—although she is most often characterized as being in her middle years; a description of the woman’s physical characteristics is lacking—beyond a single reference to her “stately tread”—whatever that may mean; her marital status is unknown although speculation is rife—she has been described as a widow, as separated, and as simply bearing the honorific accorded women in  certain occupations. Finally, even her first name is unknown—although, again, there are two schools of thought. Some argue she is the Martha who follows Holmes into his Sussex retirement, some that the servant, known only as Martha, is another person entirely.

What we do know from Watson’s own words is that Mrs. Hudson is the “long-suffering”landlady at 221B Baker Street, an extraordinarily patient woman able to tolerate her lodger’s “incredible untidiness, … addiction to music at strange hours, … occasional revolver practice within doors, … weird and malodorous scientific experiments, and the atmosphere of violence and danger which hung around him ….”

Watson reports as well that Mrs. Hudson “stood in the deepest awe of him [Holmes] and never dared to interfere with him ….” It seems reasonable to conclude that her forbearance may, in some part, have been related to Holmes’ penchant for indoor target practice. Regardless, the good doctor goes on to report that Mrs. Hudson was “fond of him,” and, indeed, her good feelings can be seen in her despair about his apparently imminent demise in The Dying Detective, and her willingness to risk life and limb to help Holmes capture a murderer in The Empty House.

In the end, however, the references to Mrs. Hudson are most remarkable for their scarcity. As described in James C. O’Leary’s informative blog, Mrs. Hudson appears in only 11 of the 60 stories describing Holmes’ cases, speaks just three times, and is accorded a mere 26 lines of dialogue. We can assume, given the characteristics of her lodgers and the nature of their activities, her silence would not be for want of something to say.

But, as luck would have it, the good woman could not be restrained for long. As rarely as Mrs. Hudson appears in the Canon, just that frequently does she appear in film versions of the Holmes stories. In America, the first significant movie series based on the Holmes stories are the 13 films released between 1939 and 1945, starring Basil Rathbone as the ever coolheaded Holmes, and Nigel Bruce as the ever (and inappropriately) bumbling Watson. Whatever may be thought of those films with regard to their faithfulness to Sir Arthur’s writings, their popularity and influence would appear inarguable. And, in contrast to her infrequent appearances in print, Mrs. Hudson appears in nine of the 13 films. Moreover, the actress, Mary Gordon, who portrayed Mrs. Hudson on the screen, portrayed her with regularity on the popular Sherlock Holmes radio program, which aired during the same period the films were made, and which also starred Rathbone and Bruce. Later films, starring Peter Cushing, Roger Moore and Robert Downey, Junior in the role of Holmes, similarly made a place in the Baker Street household for Mrs. Hudson. In a word, whatever might have been Sir Arthur’s intentions, Mrs. Hudson became a constant presence—if not, to be sure, a commanding one.

(Mary Gordon as Mrs Hudson)

Indeed, she typically appears as more housekeeper and cook than landlady. The confusion is not restricted to movie portrayals. In Sir Arthur’s The Naval Treaty, Mrs. Hudson serves Holmes, Watson and their guest the tea, coffee and breakfast she has prepared. And Watson’s reference to Holmes’ “incredible untidiness” suggests that maintaining a clean home was a part of her housekeeping responsibility as well. At other times, however, Mrs. Hudson is portrayed as the master of her domain, having at least one servant available to her (Study in Scarlet).

As Catherine Cooke described in her excellent article in the Baker Street Journal, the inconsistency in reporting about Mrs. Hudson has proven frustrating to devotees of the Canon. Never is that frustration more evident than when Mrs. Hudson disappears altogether, to be replaced, however briefly, by an interloper assuming her duties. InScandal in Bohemia, the first of Sir Arthur’s short stories, a Mrs. Turner enters the Baker Street household without explanation or apology. Those of us who are solidly in Mrs. Hudson’s corner are tempted to assume that Sir Arthur dropped her for the moment in favor of the colorless Mrs. Turner lest Mrs. Hudson’s formidable presence overshadow that of Irene Adler, the (other) woman. Admittedly, this interpretation has not yet gained widespread acceptance. Instead, as Ms. Cooke describes, a number of rather tortured explanations have been put forth to account for Mrs. Hudson’s absence.

Mrs. Turner has been seen as a friend filling in for Mrs. Hudson, a maid working for Mrs. Hudson, and as Mrs. Hudson herself during a brief fling at marital bliss, and before discovering that her Mr. Turner was already someone else’s Mr. Turner, after which she removed herself from the bigamist relationship and restored her former name. Perhaps most creatively, Mrs. Hudson has been seen as selling 221B to a Mrs. Turner, who soon revealed herself as so unsuitable to the task that Holmes bought back the lodgings, and hired Mrs. Hudson to fetch, carry and cook. Ms. Cooke rightfully debunks these improbable scenarios, preferring to see the unexpected and brief appearance of Mrs. Turner as nothing more than “a slip of the pen from Watson.” Well, maybe.

Given what we already know about the paucity of reporting about Mrs. Hudson in the Canon, it seems likely that the sudden appearance of Mrs. Turner, and her equally sudden disappearance, reflect an unconcern about the role of landlady/ housekeeper, and inattention to whomever was playing that role. A secondary, if not tertiary figure, reduced to near anonymity and cameo performances, there seems no more reason to be concerned about a constancy in her character than there is in delineating that character. As described above, it is only later that Mrs. Hudson comes regularly on stage, although still fitting neatly into the background.

There is, of course, another school of thought, this one of a conspiratorial (if not downright paranoid) bent that sees an effort to suppress from general awareness the true contribution of Mrs. Hudson to the workings of Baker Street’s consulting detective agency. That school—in which I confess I am the prime, if not sole student—views Mrs. Hudson as the unfortunate victim of the Victorian bias against women generally, and women of a certain class particularly. A victim, but not a person to be victimized. In this scenario, Mrs. Hudson becomes the mistress of her own fate, organizing the consulting detective agency based on her extensive knowledge and her capacity for informed observation, and recruiting Sherlock Holmes as the male figurehead essential to her agency. Watson will not tell you, but should you wish to know more, you can visit Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street on Facebook, or go toBarrySBrown.

Whatever the speculation, what is clear is that Mrs. Hudson presents a nearly blank canvas on which anything may be drawn. She may be a landlady / housekeeper maintaining a home for two occasionally appreciative lodgers, but there’s also the possibility she is a great deal more.

Barry Brown is the author of the Mrs Hudson series of novels including Mrs Hudson in New York which is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .In ebook format it is inKindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

 

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