Laurie R. King •
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice •
If you never quite got over that little trick at the Reichenbach Falls, take heart. Laurie R. King has not only pulled Sherlock Holmes out of his complacent, beekeeping retirement on the Sussex Downs, but given him a junior partner to boot—a female less than one-third his age.
Motherly Mrs. Hudson fusses over the orphaned Mary Russell, taking equal pleasure in her keen appetite and the bracing effect she has on the aging detective’s spirits. Holmes sees in Russell an intelligence and logic to rival his own, and undertakes training her in his methods. For her birthday he presents her with a set of picklocks.
King has created a complex and appealing character in Russell—Jewish, feminist, strong willed, impulsive, and possessed of an unexpected talent for mastering vicious dogs. Watson, for all his good heart, was never more than a foil for Holmes’s brilliance; Russell is the detective’s equal—and he knows it from their first meeting. “Twenty years ago,” muses Holmes. “Even ten. But here? Now?”
During one investigation Russell worries that the presence of a much younger woman will compromise her mentor’s reputation. “[For] a renowned bachelor such as myself,” Holmes answers, “you would probably be more of an embarrassment were you a boy.”
There are many purists who view the Holmes canon as sacrosanct and refuse to consider new interpretations. Personally, I’m delighted to see the world’s greatest consulting detective back in action, providing the vehicle is worthy of him. King’s are the only pastiches I’ve found that measure up to Doyle’s original stories.
The game is afoot once more.