Pages - 338
Published in UK in 2006 by Poisoned Pen Press UK. First published in 1994
I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him. In my defence I must say it was an engrossing book, and it was very rare to come across another person in that particular part of the world in that war year of 1915. In my seven weeks of peripatetic reading amongst the sheep (which tended to move out of my way) and the gorse bushes (to which I had painfully developed an instinctive awareness) I had never before stepped on a person.
The year is 1915 and we find a retired Sherlock Holmes living a reclusive life on the Sussex Downs engaged in the study of bees. A young girl named Mary Russell, literally bumps into him and so begins an extraordinary relationship. Holmes takes Russell under his wing and teaches her all he knows about solving crimes. A case occurs where an American senator's daughter is kidnapped and the two detectives set off to solve the case. Only to find that there is more to the case than meets the eye and someone wants them dead.
I will hold my hands up and admit that I have never ever read a Sherlock Holmes mystery. Am I upset by this? Yes, after reading this book, I am definitely upset. My only encounter with Sherlock Holmes has been through the Robert Downey Jnr recent film, where I learnt that Holmes was a bit of a boy and not the stuck up, superior being I had imagined, after glimpsing snippets of the BBC adaption from about twenty years ago. I now know that I need to read the Sherlock Holmes books.
I loved this book. I really enjoyed the feisty Mary Russell, who appeared as an equal to Holmes in this book. She is a strong willed young lady, who has suffered a lot in her young life and a fine example of the phrase -'what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger'. Mary Russell is the first character in a book that has come along, that I actually thought I would love to be. I admire the way she deals with Holmes and the fact that she does not appear to be afraid of anything.
I was pleased to discover that other characters I had heard of from the real Sherlock Holmes mysteries were included. Mrs Hudson, Dr Watson and Moriarty were names I that I was already familiar with and I loved learning more about them.
I don't normally read mystery novels at all, but I do feel after this book I may be missing out. I had an inkling who the villian was fairly early in the book and I was right, but I didn't let that spoil my enjoyment of the book.
There was a part of the book that I could see no point to, a whole section devoted to a trip in Palestine. Why? What purpose did this part play in the story? I obviously missed something, as to me, it just seemed like an exercise in adding to the final word count. However, that is just a minor dislike and I wouldn't want it to stop other people exploring the world of Mary Russell.
This book was a perfect introduction to mystery books for me and what is fantastic is there are an abundance of books in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series left to read. I am looking forward to reading the next one.
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