"MRS HOLMES," by Lisa Bolin Hawkins, $12.50, 289 pages (f)
In Lisa Bolin Hawkins' novel "Mrs Holmes," a splendidly British, clever and warm story is afoot.
Elisabeth Sunderland comes to life. She's human and likable and willing to live pretty much in disguise and hidden away as Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. Never mind that Sherlock is actually a made-up guy.
This story is fun and strangely compelling. It's easy to find oneself believing Mrs. Holmes was a real person and kind, smart and creative.
Elisabeth paints, sketches, investigates, listens and thinks. She makes friends easily and she successfully lives in the shadows so Holmes' enemies cannot use her against her brilliant, detective husband.
Hawkins has a deft hand at telling a story and footnotes her heroine's life and adventures with the "real" stories and accounts that have made Holmes famous.
Hawkins' research has been meticulous, but the details are easily woven into the familiar stories so it's not a cumbersome read.
London comes to life as well as stories about ghostly hauntings, a mysterious fire that leaves a young girl "weak-minded" and personal betrayals.
It's easy to follow along in the footsteps of Mrs. Holmes as she attends a ball, concerts, takes on a domestic servant's role for a royal duchess and lives with Holmes in a little English village in semi-retirement for a sweet time.
Elisabeth, who is willing to take risks to discover and present the truth, solves a case for Holmes, assists with others, cares for him and for Dr. Watson without bringing in a lot of womanly drama.
She is also unassuming but bold, delicate but strong and unique.
As a result, the story is sweet, interesting and fresh. It has steady ethical and moral values throughout.
Hawkins is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lives in Provo.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.