While I have a new addition to my family (a puppy!), I still managed to steal away some time to complete the ebook I had already started. So, let me tell you what Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Sword Princess is all about.
By the way, don’t be too hard on yourself, wondering how a Sherlock mystery exists that you probably have not heard of before. This was an Amazon recommendation. A mix of classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery with Jane Austen’s quaint femininity. That was what the promotional ad promised. So, I got the book.
The author, Suzette Hollingsworth is predominantly a historical romance novelist. Using the same setting and characters from Doyle’s creation, she adds a female protagonist and turns this into pretty much a chick flick from victorian era. I’d be interested to know about the copyright legal issues that go alongside with writing a novel borrowing characters from other authors. Though, Suzette version seems more inspired by the recent movies and shows based on these characters than the original series.
Coming to the plot (and there is very less of it), when there is an assassination attempt on the princess of Montenegro, Sherlock Homes is called onto the case. His first case of international renown!
On the home front, he faces a different challenge – the independent thinking and competent country girl, Mirabelle Hudson. His land lady’s niece, Mirabelle, functions as his lab assistant and housekeeper. She has taken on the position so that she can get an opportunity to learn science from one of the keenest brilliant minds there is and also save money to attend college. She is quick to question and refuses to get intimidated by Sherlock. Mirabelle might be hard working and level headed, but there is always room for some romance. Voila! A little crush on the good looking and gentle Dr. Watson.
Meanwhile, Princess Elena who is great with swords and on horse back, but not so good with words and in the London ballroom, is in dire need of protection. With the crown Prince of Italy falling in love with her on first sight, the princess is sent over to the most exclusive finishing school to hone her social skills. That is how Mirabelle finds herself placed under cover to protect the princess. I personally liked the character of princess much more than the others.
The parts of the book featuring the vacant, snobbish and sometimes kind rich debutants does remind one of the Jane Austen novels, but there is none of the finesse in the characterization.
Mirabelle is able to learn fencing, shooting and more life saving skills from the great detective. In parallel, she manages to find a place for herself in the hearts of the elite girls. While managing all this, she has yet another distraction in her life; Her work with the earnest young girls of an orphanage.
Soon, their story takes over the main assassination plot and one is left to wonder what the fuss was really all about.
The fact that Mirabelle learnt to fight with remarkable ease in what seems a really short time is only one of the book’s shortcomings. The references to Dr. Watson’s dreamy eyes and Sherlock swoon worthy physique can get quite irritating. Also the fact that a lot of key scenes were mere summaries and the end effect felt like I was reading a book with missing pages.
However, the part I did enjoy (Yes apparently there is something that I liked!) is the veiled appreciation and the slow build up of romance between the central pair. There is also enough humour in the conversations to keep me engaged. If I ever have nothing else to do then I might read the other books in the series to find out what happened to Mirabelle Hudson and the man she will fall for.
In short, if you want to see Dr. Watson flirting and Sherlock Homes with a love interest that isn’t the elusive Irene Adler, then (and only then) is this book for you.