The first book in a mystery series.


Publication year: 1994
Format: Audio
Running time: 13 hours and 25 minutes
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Jenny Starlin

This is simply fanfiction but very well done.

Mary Russell is a fifteen year-old American who has recently lost her parents and moved to Britain to stay with her aunt. While reading Virgil, she bumps accidentally into a man who is observing bees. The man is none other than retired Sherlock Holmes and he’s so astonished by the young woman’s intelligence and nerve that he takes her as an apprentice. The book is really Mary’s growing up story.

The book starts in 1915 England and the World War definitely affects the story, especially at the start. In the mystery plot Russell and Holmes search for a kidnapped child, using disguises and other Holmes’ methods. However, the mystery often takes a backward step and the story focuses on Holmes and Russell’s relationship as mentor and student.

It’s been years since I read Doyle and I’m actually more familiar with the various reimaginings. However, I feel that Holmes (and especially Russell) are too dismissive of Watson whom Russell continually thinks as less intelligent than them both. Holmes feels also a bit too likable and concerned about other people. But maybe I’m wrong; I really need to reread Doyle.

Still, this book is great in a pure fun sense; Russell is a great female character and a wonderful contrast to the more reticent Holmes. However, it seems that in the subsequent books they become romantically entangled and their age difference is too much for me.

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