This is a jewel of a book! It's part of a series, and you won't want to miss any of its related titles. I only wish there were a dozen more of them.
I ran across the first book in this series by accident several years ago. I listened to it as an audiobook, and have no doubt the narration was key to my liking the book so much.
The premise is clever: These are the stories of Sherlock Holmes -- who supposedly was not a fictional character at all -- and his brilliant young female protegee, Mary. King deftly explains away any evidence that Holmes was not a real person, including Conan Doyle's involvement in the his chronicles. She depicts Holmes as a delightfully eccentric and complex man, making him much more appealing and interesting than Doyle's sometimes dour character.
Mary is the real star of these books, however, and she is one of the most fascinating fictional characters I've ever encountered. She is both brave and vulnerable, and brilliant without being intimidating. Her relationship with Holmes grows as the series continues, and is characterized by a mutual love and respect very uncommon during the time in which the novel is set. Just seeing the brilliant Mary and equally brilliant Holmes interact is worth the price of admission, and the clever plotlines and dialogue are icing on the cake.
The narrator for this series is unparallelled, capturing the essence of both Mary and Holmes so precisely that I can't imagine how anyone could enjoy this book as much in print.
If you're a Holmes fan, you won't want to miss this series. If you're not, this might turn you into one!
The plot line for this novel is unique and beautifully played out. It's worth reading just to follow the twists and turns. The characters are complex and believable, especially the father. Whether or not you agree with his actions, you can empathize with the conflict he feels as the years progress.
Strangely, though, I felt least empathy and patience with the main character, Nora, whose humorless ruminations grew tiresome as the book went on. Each plot turn prompted Nora to fall into deep and profound analysis. By the end of the book, I was exhausted with her seriousness.
If you can put up with the all-too-serious Nora, this is a good read.
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