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In new novel ‘Mrs. Hudson and the Wild West,’ housekeeper of Sherlock Holmes rides again

Sherlock Holmes survived his plunge into the Reichenbach Falls. He even survived the death of his creator Arthur Conan Doyle.Dozens of writers from Nicholas Meyer The Seven Percent Solution to Laurie R. King The Beekeepers Apprentice to Anthony Horowitz The House of Silk have continued the chronicles of the worlds first and foremost private consulting detective.Now Barry S. Brown enters the fray with Mrs. Hudson and the Wild West the seventh in his Mrs. Hudson of Baker Street series.

It was Brown who made a startling discovery: Mrs.Hudson ostensibly the housekeeper at Holmes apartment at 221-B Baker St. was really the brains of the operation.Mrs. Hudson who has no lines of dialogue in Conan Doyles stories or even a first name learned criminology it seems from her dear late husband Tobias a London bobby. Together they practiced solving cases from the police reports in the Evening Standard and other London papers.Stodgy patriarchal Victorian society would never have accepted a lady detective. So she hired Holmes and Watson as fronts. They are not total dolts. Holmes rather a ham actor is useful with impersonations and disguises and they go out and do the legwork kind of like Archie Godwin did in Rex Stouts Nero Wolfe stories. But its Mrs. Hudson Cockney accent and all who handles the trickier interviews and she’s the one who cracks the mystery.

In Mrs. Hudson and the Wild West the firm is approached by none other than Buffalo Bill Cody. Just before the grand opening of his Wild West Show in London Codys prized palomino Duke is kidnapped or rather horsenapped.It takes Mrs. Hudson & Co. less than a chapter to recover Duke. Brown writes rather long chapters. But that case plunges them into a complex murder investigation involving feuding farmers two pairs of star-crossed lovers and a pair of lovable delinquents who could have wandered in from Huckleberry Finn.For those who love steampunk Gilbert and Sullivan and quaint English villages where they’re dropping like flies Mrs. Hudson and the Wild West make ideal summer reading.Brown’s novels have grown steadily better as the series has progressed. He has perfected a version of Doyle’s quasi-Victorian narration that does not tax modern readers. Light swift and with underlying humor, they make one long to huzzah and call God Save the Queen.

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