Fan fiction seems to be a trend lately. It fills the gap between the release of a new book in a series by providing the back story behind some reference to a historical event referenced in the novel, completes the character development of a side character or explores what might have happened if the character had made a different choice or decision. I first became aware of fan fiction during the Harry Potter years as audiences waited impatiently for the next book and easy access to new stories posted on the internet helped fuel its popularity.
Recently however fan fiction is becoming more main stream and new authors are paying homage to previous authors or characters and creating completely new works based on the originals. Horowitz in the Magpie Murders, paid homage to Agatha Christie, using her plot line in a modern setting. In this book, Laurie King, takes the characters, settings and basic framework of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes series and has inserted a new character and then restarted from where Doyle left off.
Mary Russell nearly trips over Sherlock Holmes in one of her tramps across the countryside. She quickly deduces who he is and what he is doing-research on bees, and impresses Homes with her insights. Orphaned at a young age, and now living with a most tiresome aunt, Mary revels in learning from Holmes just as much as he enjoys teaching her the deductive skills for which he is so famous. Mostly retired and rusticating in the countryside Holmes didn’t realize how much he longed for stimulating conversations and the excitement of seeing a young mind grow and develop under his tutelage
Putting her new skills to use, Holmes and Marry help the local police solve several crimes with great success. Then the daughter of an American couple is kidnapped and while Mary and Holmes are able to track the girl and rescue her, the ringleader of the kidnapping escapes beyond their reach.
Soon Mary is accepted into one of the colleges in Oxford and moves there to continue her studies and must put on hold helping Holmes solve cases. But stange things keep happening to Holmes, Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson and it soon becomes obvious that some malevolent force is putting them in danger. Then Mary begins to notice that she is being followed and her rooms and things searched. As Holmes and Marry join forces to find out who is behind these actions they begin to see an evil as great as Moriarity’s plotting against them.
King does an incredible job in keeping the Conan Doyle ethos intact, while inserting a new character into that milieu. Mary, although a woman of her time, is smart, strong and a bit socially odd, but she is the perfect foil to Holmes’ whose own social oddness and sense of superiority keeps intimacy at bay. The clash between them is amusing, yet touching and King allows Doyle’s characters, who have been locked in time, grow and develop in ways that seem completely natural. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next Mary Russell and Holmes adventure!
Brenda’s Rating: **** (4 out of 5 Stars)
Recommend this book to: Marian, Lauren and Sharon.
Book Study Worthy? Sure!
Read in ebook format.