The Beekeeper's Apprentice - Laurie R. King Since joining Goodreads I've discovered a taste for all sorts of books which I would have ignored only a year ago. Some books which I've read over the past few months have simply not come my way before. Others I have made a conscious decision at some point in the past not to read, but have changed my mind about, encouraged by positive reviews or a desire to participate in a group read.

This book falls into the second category. Years ago I read and enjoyed King's Kate Martinelli series (although I would be hard pressed to remember much about that series now other than it was set in San Francisco). However, when I first picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice in a book store, I put it down again because I don't like anything which smacks of fan fiction and I don't like historical crime fiction. Well, that's what I told myself anyway.

Now, having read the first book in this series years after it appeared because Goodreads friends whose opinion I value rated it highly, I realise that pre-conceptions can get in the way of genuine literary enjoyment. While I'm still not keen on fan fiction as such, King's skill as a writer overcomes my prejudices in that regard. Her skill as a writer also makes me realise that maybe I don't mind historical crime fiction after all.

There are many things I enjoyed about this novel. I like the characters: Holmes and Russell are interesting and well-developed and while Russell has a bit of the Mary Sue about her, it wasn't enough to make me dislike her. Other characters are less well-developed, but no less so than in most crime fiction novels. I like the episodic nature of the mystery, which has a somewhat over-the-top but nevertheless satisfying resolution. I like the wit and the occasional humour. I like the fact that King didn't feel obliged to overdo the period setting with unnecessary detail.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to Book 2. I suspect that readers with some familiarity with and liking for the Sherlock Holmes stories would get more out of this series than readers coming to the books with no such background. I also suspect that those who are passionate devotees of Sherlock Holmes would not be as keen - they'd probably have too much to criticise!