Book Review: “Miss Sherlock Holmes” by Brad Ricca

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes: The True Story of New York City’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case That Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca (2017)

Genre: Nonfiction, History, Crime, Mystery

Page Length: 432 pages (hardcover edition)

Synopsis:

Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the true story of Grace Humiston, the detective and lawyer who turned her back on New York society life to become one of the nation’s greatest crimefighters during an era when women weren’t involved with murder investigations. After agreeing to take the sensational Cruger case, Grace and her partner, the hard-boiled detective Julius J. Kron, navigated a dangerous web of secret boyfriends, two-faced cops, underground tunnels, rumors of white slavery, and a mysterious pale man — in a desperate race against time.

Grace’s motto “Justice for those of limited means” led her to strange cases all over the world. From defending an innocent giant on death row to investigating an island in Arkansas with a terrible secret; from the warring halls of Congress to a crumbling medieval tower in Italy, Grace solved crimes in-between shopping at Bergdorf Goodman and being marked for death by the sinister Black Hand. Grace was appointed as the first woman U.S. district attorney in history and the first female consulting detective to the NYPD. Despite her many successes in social justice, at the height of her powers Grace began to see chilling connections in the cases she solved, leading to a final showdown with her most fearsome adversary of all.

This is the first-ever narrative biography of this singular woman the press nicknamed after fiction’s greatest detective. This poignant story reveals important corollaries between missing girls, the role of the media, and the real truth of crime stories. The great mystery of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes —and its haunting twist ending—is how one woman could become so famous only to disappear completely. (description from Goodreads)

Review: 

Miss Sherlock Holmes is a book that tells the story of Grace Humingston, first female United States Attorney. She was a lawyer who was a force to be reckoned with in her time, when female detectives were a rarity. The book takes place in the 1900s, starts off with a prologue about Sir Conan Doyle and then quickly launches into the case of Ruth Cruger. Ruth was young woman who disappeared from her home and her case sparked an interest around the country. It also brought light to the staggering amount of missing person cases/epidemic at that time.

I didn’t know about Grace prior to reading this novel and wished I had learned about her sooner. She is one of the many achieving women in history that seems to be glossed over and I wished more stories like hers would be taught in school or written more in books/media.

This is definitely a lengthy book and by all means it is also very detailed and laced with facts. There is a lot of information dumped on the reader and at times the text comes off a bit wordy. I would suggest reading this book in moderate portions as to not feel so overwhelmed, but I also felt that the author could have simplified some parts of the book to make it easier on the reader.

In between the timeline of Ruth’s disappearance case, readers learn about some of Grace’s prolific and very interesting cases that she took on. Ruth was fighter for and mostly took on immigration cases as they were heavily discriminated against and people took advantage of them (when it came to the law,etc.)

The book gives insight and teaches readers about the justice system, immigration regulations, laws being passed throughout the 1900s. It was very interesting to see what incidents that put laws into place as well as how the cases from back then compared to modern-day regulations.

While the book is very slow-paced as it should be due to its immense amount of details, I felt that was too lengthy. There were times that I felt that certain stories, cases, and people Ricca talked about could have been cut as I felt they took away from the initial focus of the story. At one point the book moves so slow I almost DNF’d the book.

I thought overall it was an interesting book that reminded me of Criminal Minds and Law & Order. I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had not been so dry.

Final Verdict:

*Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links!

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