Day 18 – Embarrassed

30 Day Book Challenge: Book That You’re Most Embarrassed To Say You Like

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King

“‘So how did it end?’
“‘I haven’t the faintest notion. You would have to ask Watson.’
“‘But surely you know how the case ended,’ I said, amazed.
“‘The case, certainly. But what Watson has made of it, I couldn’t begin to guess, except that there is bound to be gore and passion and secret handshakes. Oh, and some sort of love interest. I deduce, Miss Russell; Watson transforms. Good day.’ He went back into the cottage.”

A rant which turned into a review:

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 4 novels and 56 short stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes.

I have read 3 of the novels: A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, andThe Hound of the Baskervilles (my first).

I’ve also read 9 out of the 12 short stories in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League” (my favorite), “A Case of Identity,” “The Boscombe Valley Mystery,” “The Five Orange Pips,” “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” and “The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb.”

After watching BBC’s Sherlock, rereading A Study In Scarlet/Sign of Four, and continuing Adventures this academic year, I started searching the internet and discovered an author by the name of Laurie R. King.

And what I read made me flee in horror…

… That is, until my friend Catherine posted a short blog about King’s novel O Jerusalem. I asked if it was any good, she proceeded to gush about the series, and suddenly I was purchasing The Beekeeper’s Apprentice on my Kindle.

I stayed in my pjs all Saturday because of that darn book.

Why does it embarrass me? Well…

King herself has said that the inspiration behind her character was when she questioned what it would be like if Sherlock Holmes was both a woman and of the twentieth century. While that sounds cool enough, she went instead with a young woman (15 at the start of the first story!) who becomes Holmes’ protegé.

What’s creepy about it is the acknowledgment that Mary Russell views Sherlock Holmes as both her mentor, “father,” and – ahem – romantic interest.


Plus, there’s a 39 age difference between the two characters. Yeah, you read that right: thirty-nine. THIRTY. NINE.

Double ew.

And then there’s the fact that apparently Russell is just super smart to begin with – she easily “deduces” Holmes when the two first meet, not realizing who he is, which apparently impresses him enough to let her come over and hang out with him and Mrs. Hudson.

C’mon. No one is as smart as Sherlock Holmes – except for perhaps Moriarty, and he’s a villain, so he doesn’t count. I think I would have liked her more if she had revealed her intelligence in a more natural way. This sudden rapid fire deduction was just too much.

To top it off, I think King must really hate Dr. Watson. I mean, she must loathe his very fictional existence because she spends a lot of energy in making him appear dumber than a sack of potatoes. Her Holmes appears to treat him like a naive child who has to be protected – the poor character spent most of his time in the novel in hiding with Holmes’ brother Mycroft. By Russell, he’s treated like an elderly uncle with whom you humor and complain to other relatives about but tolerate because he’s old and family.

Oh, and the villain of the novel? Bor-ing.

(Why oh why do villains always have to give incredibly long speeches when they catch the hero(es)? If I was a villain in a mystery story, I’d just shoot the hero dead and be done with it instead of gabbing away and letting my guard slip and giving the neo-dynamic duo a chance to attack me. Curse you hubris!)

And yet

It actually is very good.

I thought it was going to be the Twilight of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s not at all.

(Maybe The Vampire Diaries, but not Twilight.)

A few good points:

I actually really do like Russell, and oddly enough, it’s because of her decision to study theology at university. It’s such an odd and surprising choice, but kinda cool. And of course, Holmes hates it.

King’s version of Sherlock Holmes is less god-on-a-pedestal and more approachable. He seems a bit more mellow and sympathetic to us poor mortals. He’s just as rude and funny as ever, too, so that’s nice.

And – as long as I don’t remember he’s supposed to be older than my father – he’s rather sexy. In that I’m-sorry-I-can’t-hear-you-over-how-awesome-I-am sort of way.

Catherine hinted the novels get better – or at least the villains do. We’ll see…

Up Next: Day 19 – Book That Turned You On


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