The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

This is the first in a series of books which extend Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series by imagining what might happen to Holmes in his retirement in Sussex. He is joined by an intelligent, talented young girl (Mary Russell) who becomes his de facto sidekick, despite the fact that Watson is still alive and well.

There was a lot I enjoyed about this book. It has an enjoyable plot, though the mystery to be solved in each case is not quite as opaque as in some of the original stories. It carries the tone and voice of the original stories, while not being a pastiche and bringing something new as well.

However, while I like Mary’s character, I felt that she was too much like Holmes in character for the chemistry to work well. One reason that Holmes and Watson work so well together is that they are very different in character, and so they complement each other: Mary feels at times like a younger, female version of Holmes, and you wonder why you need two of them.

Despite these reservations, I’ll probably read the next in the series to see how it develops.

books historical crime

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