There seems to be a trend (two books makes a trend right?) in biographies of 20th century women, in which the stories of their work are told without much or any of their personal life. And I love it!
Similarly to The Relentless Reformer and 18 Tiny Deaths, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the story of a woman who did the things she was passionate about and made long lasting changes to our world. And like Josephine Roche, Grace Humiston didn't leave much information about her personal life behind. I deeply appreciate that these women, in the small act of destroying, or not creating, their "personal" papers, ensured that their legacies would be about the things they cared about. We are seeing so often these days stories and jokes and plot-lines about media's bizarre coverage of female pop stars and leaders' bodies and love lives and largely ignoring the work that made them famous and interesting in the first place. So I love these biographies that can't, or don't, focus on these impactful women's sex lives. That in and of itself is impactful.
Speaking of impactuful, growing up we were taught that there were like ten men in American history that made us who we are in every way. As a kid I didn't really think very hard about this. I knew not to trust what I read, but I didn't know what I was missing. So I am surprised/not surprised by the massive impacts of women like Grace Humiston, Josephine Roche, Frances Glessner Lee, and the thousands of women I haven't yet read about. What is maybe a little surprising is their impact on male dominated fields; that our forensics system was created by a woman, that the New York missing persons office was created by a woman. Though with a little thought, it's not that surprising. Women are the most affected by crime, and have been placed as the caretakers of society in our culture. I suppose the surprise comes from my programing that brilliant women can't be sucessful. Even these brilliant women's stories end with the people they helped betraying them--once they became known they were picked apart and "canceled" by people unwilling to see the truth and the next generation who would build on their legacies.
I wonder who in our generation is making great changes, but has yet to be fried by the limelight? Will we learn of their accomplishments and destroy them as we did these women in our past? Or have we learned, have we become more understanding and generous. Perhaps this is why hindsight is 20/20, we don't know what we have till she's gone.
Back of the Book:
Mrs. Sherlock Holmes tells the incredible true life story of Mrs. Grace Humiston, the New York lawyer and detective who solved the famous cold case of Ruth Cruger, an 18-year-old girl who disappeared in 1917. Grace was an amazing lawyer and traveling detective during a time when no women were practicing these professions. She focused on solving cases no one else wanted and advocating for innocents. Grace became the first female U.S. District Attorney and made ground-breaking investigations into modern slavery.
One of Grace's greatest accomplishments was solving the Cruger case after following a trail of corruption that lead from New York to Italy. Her work changed how the country viewed the problem of missing girls. But the victory came with a price when she learned all too well what happens when one woman upstages the entire NYPD.
In the literary tradition of In Cold Blood and The Devil in the White City, Brad Ricca's Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is a true crime tale told in spine-tingling fashion. This story is about a woman whose work was so impressive that the papers gave her the nickname of fiction’s greatest sleuth. With important repercussions in the present about kidnapping, the role of the media, and the truth of crime stories, the great mystery of the book – and its haunting twist ending – is how one woman can become so famous only to disappear completely.