The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King
Mary Russell is irascible, arrogant, and drop-dead brilliant. One day she literally stumbles over the retired Sherlock Holmes, and he adopts her as an apprentice detective. They study, trade acerbic quips, and have a grand time. But when they solve a crime, Russell and Holmes attract attention from a villain who wants to ensure they don’t meddle again.
One major drawback is that Russell endlessly patronizes Dr. Watson. Worse, King’s Holmes mistreats him too. I can understand how the young, arrogant Russell might write off Watson. But Conan Doyle’s Holmes had the utmost respect for Watson’s competence, friendship, and intelligence. King’s book treats Watson like a cute, dumb puppy. It’s upsetting, and not necessary for the story.
Also, Russell’s a Mary Sue. Sorry. Her talents rival Holmes’s own, except she’s only fifteen. Mastery of every academic subject, athletic feats, juggling, disguise, dissembling, childcare, prestidigitation, codebreaking, medicine, driving – plus she’s beautiful, and can employ social graces. And the developing romance doesn’t feel realistic. They’re 38 years apart, and, while you could say the relationship attests to how equally-matched they are, I’d find it more believable as a mentorship.
I still recommend the series. King writes well, and wittily. I set aside my disagreements with the characterization, and enjoyed a self-indulgent flight of fancy.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.