- Virginia Johnson
Sherlock Holmes is looking for a swarm of wild bees and perhaps something more personally sinister at the start of Beekeeping for Beginners. What, or rather whom, he finds instead is a young person, dressed in good if tattered clothes, whose wits and keen observation are a surprising match for his own.
Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes novels are set in his later years and feature his involvement in the post-World War I stages of the Great Game. They lead readers around the world and into a variety of cultures, puzzles, and dangerous situations. He is accompanied by Mary Russell, a scholar many years his junior, who is as out of sync with the general population as is Holmes himself and more often than not takes center stage.
The story of their meeting has been told before, from Mary Russell’s viewpoint, but Holmes’ first-person insights are unique, and there is an added intriguing mystery as Holmes discovers that “Russell’s” living arrangements might spell her doom.
If you enjoy this well-written short story, there are many novels in the series to try, beginning with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen, which picks up shortly after this story.
For another excellent take on Holmes’ world, I recommend the Irene Adler novels, by Carole Nelson Douglas. First in this series, which features the person Holmes described as “the Woman” in Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia,” is Goodnight, Mr. Holmes. They are charming mysteries dressed in the trappings of late 19th-century Europe, featuring lots of action and romance. Famous/infamous people are involved, and, yes, a puzzle lies at the heart of each story.