Though the mystery itself is a bit lackluster, it is certainly not bad, and definitely made up for by the interactions between the two characters. This particular story is also interspersed with some absolutely wonderful moments--such as the scene in which Irene settles down to pass a few hours reading a story about “a lost soldier, a young detective, a flat, a German word scraped on a wall, and the color red”--a story that is indisputably recognizable as A Study in Scarlet, the first Holmes novel.
However, the same praise cannot be extended to Thomas’ characterization of Holmes himself--at least, not completely. He is hardly the genius detective we’ve become used to, rarely showing off those brilliant deductive abilities, and he also happens to be too much of a complete gentleman. Yet the Holmes of these early years is supposed to be a more manipulative, more emotionally-immature man-- a side of him that hardly appears in the novel. Aside from a wonderful scene in which Irene bursts out laughing, leading Holmes to confusedly state that the “logic of the situation” escapes him--a scene not unreminiscent of the emotionally-clueless Sherlock in the recent BBC series–Holmes feels like too perfect a man.
Nevertheless, the story winds believably through a beautiful setting interspersed with historical figures–Thomas Edison in particular–to end sweetly on the Sussex Downs, a setting recognizable by most Holmes fans as that secluded locale where the great detective retires at the end of his career to raise bees. In another welcome twist, however, it turns out that it’s something besides a desire for seclusion that leads Holmes to his bees.