I really, really wanted to adore this book. I want to enjoy every single book that I read of course but I especially wanted to love this one: partly because it's generally considered to be one of the better Sherlock Holmes pastiches out there but mostly because it was highly recommended to me by a couple of blogger friends and now they'll going to be disappointed when they read this and find out that I didn't much care for it.
Before I'll get onto why this book didn't work out for me I'll just make it clear that I certainly didn't hate it. It has a very intriguing premise and there were definitely some parts of the book that I found interesting and enjoyable (e.g. the Wales section). The prose itself is lovely and there's some genuinely funny banter between Holmes and Mary. But unfortunately I just couldn't get past King's treatment of John Watson. He's barely in this book and Mary condescendingly dismisses him as a kind-hearted but bumbling old fool, which Holmes doesn't even attempt to defend. But what was even more frustrating than either of these things was that at one point Holmes forgot - forgot! - to warn Watson that his life was in danger! I'll be in my grave before I'll believe that Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes could be capable of that!
In the Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Watson is portrayed as being a very efficient doctor and soldier and although not a genius is still intelligent in his own right. He even managed to solve a subplot in The Hound of the Baskervilles all by himself! And it's clear that Holmes loves and respects Watson very much and that Watson is important to him. Yes, there are times where Holmes clearly thinks Watson is being slow on the uptake but nevertheless he does often praise Watson for his intelligence and resourcefulness. I can't help but wonder if King based her book's Watson on Nigel Bruce's Watson from the Basil Rathbone films rather than the Watson of the canon. Either way it's certainly made me even more grateful for Jude Law and Martin Freeman's excellent portrayals of Watson.
To the people who recommended this book to me, I'm sorry, I did enjoy some aspects of this book but ultimately I just couldn't get past the characterisations of Watson and Holmes in this one and I doubt I'll be continuing with the rest of the series. Also, another reason for that is because I know that Mary and Holmes eventually become lovers and marry. The age gap between Holmes and Mary is 38 years! Which makes Holmes almost old enough to be Mary's grandfather! I've come across May-December romances in novels before and haven't minded them (Jane Eyre, Rebecca, etc) but this is just too extreme for my liking.