This book’s title, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, caught my attention when I was browsing at Barnes and Noble. Originally, I thought it would be a novel about a wife of Sherlock Holmes or something like it. But rather it’s about something much more interesting. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca is book, part true crime part biography, tells an incredible story as compelling as fiction.
Who Was She:
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes or Mrs. Grace Quackenbos Humiston decided, as a young woman, to go to law school. After graduating she went on to practice law at the People’s Law Firm. Then she went on to establish her own practice, where she defended the type of people she would spend the entirety of her career defending. These people were often poor immigrants, often illiterate or/and could not speak English fluently, or to the extent needed to understand everything going on. These people came to her as a last resort. She investigated all kinds of cases including fraud and murder. One of these cases led to her being hired by the Attorney general where she investigated peonage in the South.
Another one of her cases was the missing girl Ruth Cruger. Ruth’s parents were desperate. The police had written off the case as a girl who had run away from home (they deliberately ignored evidence that proved the contrary.) But Grace took Ruth’s parents concerns seriously. Because of her attention and the energy and resources she invested in the case she was able to solve the case. Grace’s hopes of finding Ruth alive were dashed when her detective Kron and a police officer found Ruth’s body under the basement of the man they had always suspected. The same basement the police claimed to have already searched.
Because of her success in finding Ruth Cruger when the police could not she gained the appellation of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. Her success and notoriety led to her being hired by the New York City Police Department to investigate the cases of missing girls and other accolades. However, her success and fame did not last long after she brought to the public’s attention the allegedly 600 girls who had gotten pregnant at the newly established Camp Upton and of that number the 7 found dead. As she never released the proof she had with the press people turned against her. Her life was much quieter after that although she was still occasionally involved in other cases. She spent most of her time making sure that no more girls went missing.
My Thoughts on the Book:
As I said previously this book can be looked at two ways, as a book about the Ruth Cruger case, as well as a biography of Grace Humiston. I think it succeeds in doing both quite well. The author covers the Ruth Cruger case thoroughly discussing the angles and leads followed by the police, Ruth’s parents and Grace which all added up to police corruption as well as the misleading assumption that the girls who had gone missing must have been “bad” The author covers all sides of the story fairly and with enough detail to allow you to make your conclusions.
As a biography the author does a good job too. Although, most of the focus and emphasis is on Grace’s involvement in Ruth’s case. The author does a fairly thorough job in covering Grace’s life but, the details of her personal life, like her childhood and her marriages, were barely mentioned at all. However, her professional life was covered extensively and made it easy to see how remarkable Grace really was.
This book was incredibly engaging. I never wanted to put it down. This is a book I will recommend a lot, especially to people intimidated by nonfiction, people who are true crime fans, as well as people looking to read about remarkable women.
Grace’s fame, though fleeting, was able to make a difference and help society to see that a girl missing should be taken seriously not written off.