Cover image for Mrs. Sherlock Holmes : the true story of New York City's greatest female detective and the 1917 missing girl case that captivated a nation / 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 / Brad Ricca.
First Edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2017.

Physical Description:
viii, 436 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
True detective mysteries -- The missing skater -- The coroner's cabinet -- The Heatherbloom girl -- These little cases -- Army of the vanished -- The mysterious island of Sunny Side -- The giant and the chair -- The Manhunter of Harlem -- The pale man -- A door to the underworld -- A second guess -- The pointed finger -- The man who laughs -- The sliding number -- Mrs. Sherlock Holmes -- The marked neck -- Her last bow -- Army of one -- The assassin strikes -- The invisible places -- The witnesses' revenge -- Her dark shepherd.
Presents the true story of the first female U.S. District Attorney and traveling detective who found missing eighteen-year-old Ruth Cruger when the entire NYPD had given up.

"In 1917, on the day before Valentine's Day, eighteen-year-old Ruth Cruger disappeared. When the police gave up, a mysterious woman in black vowed to find her. 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 crime fighters during an era when women were rarely involved with investigations. After agreeing to take the sensational Cruger case, Grace and her partner, the hardboiled 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 the first female U.S. district attorney in history and the first female consulting detective to the New York Police Department. 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. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is the first-ever narrative biography of this singular woman the press nicknamed after fiction's greatest detective. Her poignant story reveals important clues about the relationship between missing girls, the media, and the real truth of crime stories. The great mystery of Grace's life--and the haunting twist ending of the book--is how one woman could become so famous only to disappear from history completely."--Dust jacket.


Library Branch
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
1 Bob Harkins Branch 363.25092 RIC Book Adult General Collection

On Order



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.

Author Notes

BRAD RICCA is the author of Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster--the Creators of Superman, winner of the Ohioana Book Award for Nonfiction and the Cleveland Arts Prize for Literature. His first book of poetry, American Mastodon, won the St. Lawrence Book Award. His documentary Last Son won a Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival. He has been a contributing expert for the New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, the BBC, the AV Club, and All Things Considered. He is a SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where he was born and now lives with his family.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ricca (Super Boys) provides a fascinating account of Grace Humiston, a pioneering attorney in the early 20th century, dubbed "Mrs. Sherlock Holmes" by the press for her investigative prowess. The author effectively employs a novelist's techniques to heighten suspense; the first chapter features the discovery of a hole in the floor of a building, the significance of which is not revealed until much later. Ricca then depicts the tragic disappearance, in 1917, of 18-year-old Ruth Cruger, who had left her Manhattan home on an errand. Finally, he introduces Humiston, who in 1905 became one of "only a thousand female lawyers in the whole United States." Her intervention on behalf of a woman convicted of murdering an abuser in New Jersey showcases the intelligence, determination, and savvy that became her hallmark. Humiston's later exploits almost defy belief as she traveled to the South as a Special United States District Attorney to uncover the practice of slavery "through forced debt," an inquiry that came to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt. Ultimately, Humiston gets involved in the search for Ruth Cruger, succeeding where so many others had failed. Her incredible life story, superbly portrayed by Ricca, is more proof that truth is stranger than fiction. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

On a cold New York day in 1917, 18-year-old Ruth Cruger disappeared on a trip to pick up ice skates. As leads dried up and his frustration with the police grew, her father called in Grace Humiston, a lawyer and detective whose work for women and immigrants had become legendary. Author Ricca's (Super Boys) fascinating account moves between the kidnapping of Cruger in 1917 and the career of -Humiston from her law school years in the early 1900s through her defense of impoverished immigrants, her investigation of modern-day slavery, and her appointment as special assistant U.S. district attorney (the first woman in that role). While the police assumed Cruger had eloped, -Humiston disagreed, and pursued clues with a single-minded intensity. Her work paid off, but in the process she embarrassed the police department, and various missteps in her later career caused her reputation to dwindle, until today, when she is barely remembered. VERDICT Ricca has parlayed an obscure reference to Mrs. Sherlock Holmes in his earlier research into a spellbinding true crime history that reads like a novel. It will be enjoyed by aficionados of Victorian crime novels as well as true crime fans. [See Prepub Alert, 7/25/16.]-Deirdre Bray Root, MidPointe Lib. Syst., OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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