The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

Sherlock Holmes with a space opera twist…it works! An entertaining novella!

This is one of the most refreshing Sherlock Holmes-inspired tales. The space opera setting was such fun! The Watnsonesque character here is The Shadow’s Child, a transport ship that lost its crew in a traumatic experience and now earns a living by brewing drugs to calm space travelers. The Shadow’s Child’s latest client is Long Chau, a brusque scholar who needs the brew to help her complete an assignment. The Shadow’s Child becomes involved in Long Chau’s assignment, which may involve murder and a missing person. The Shadow’s Child doesn’t entirely trust Long Chau, especially when it seems that she may have had a hand in this whole affair. The novella length makes this into a fast-paced and entertaining story. The writing is engaging, the setting is lively (i have a soft spot for reading space opera in ‘dark’ times), and the dynamic between Long Chau and The Shadow’s Child had a real zing. I would love to read more about them, and perhaps see their partnership consolidate into a more meaningful companionship. I do not consider myself a big fan of Sherlock Holmes but the author here managed to improve on the og’s personalities and to freshen things up with a space opera setting (we have virtual realities, avatars, space travel, etc.). The mystery itself was the weakest aspect of the story but the author’s storytelling kept me interested.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ½

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