The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

Monday, September 30, 2013


The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
by Laurie R. King
★★★★★

Mary Russell, a 15-year-old girl meets an aging beekeeper after she moves to a small English town with her aunt. She quickly discovers it’s a newly retired Sherlock Holmes. The two are an incredible intellectual match and Sherlock decides to take Mary under his wing as an apprentice detective. The friendship that grows between the two saves them both in a way.

“We made an odd pair, the gangling, bespectacled girl and a tall, sardonic recluse, blessed or cursed with minds of hard brilliance that alienated all but the most tenacious.”

Mary is an outstanding character. She is smart and fiercely independent. She can take Sherlock’s rough demeanor and give it back to him in the same way. We watch as she grows into a strong adult and develops an incredibly keen eye.

As for Sherlock’s world, it feels like King picks up right where Doyle left off. We get to see Watson, Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson again, such a treat for Sherlock fans. This novel is more character driven than Doyle’s work, but that made it all the more enjoyable for me.

"It was none other than the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson, whom I had long considered the most underrated figure in all of Dr. Watson's stories. Yet another example of the man's obtuseness, this inability to know a gem unless it be set in gaudy gold."

The mystery is well-plotted, but it’s more about the relationship that develops. Mary has a lot of guilt from her past and Sherlock has a hard time treating anyone like an equal. The two are good for each other. It moves slowly in parts, but it gives us a chance to see Mary develop and not just solve a single case.  

BOTTOM LINE: Loved it. It’s the first in a series and I already found a copy of the second book. If you enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Shakespeare books than this is a great one for you.

"That's what tears are for, you know, to wash away the fear and cool the hate."

“The discovery of a sign of true intellect outside ourselves procures us something of the emotion Robinson Crusoe felt when he saw the imprint of a human foot on the sandy beach of his island.”

I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.

14 comments:

Fanda Kutubuku said...

I loved it too. I'm not a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, but I like this because it's more character driven and more humane than Arthur Doyle's Holmes. Can't wait to read the 2nd book, they say it's the best so far.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've not read a single Sherlock Holmes book. Somehow all of that just passed me by. That and the Agatha Christie books. It plagues me a little bit...both are on the list as "projects"!

JoAnn said...

I haven't read any Sherlock Holmes either, but so many readers love this book!

Jeanne said...

Oh, you've discovered these! I love Sherlock Holmes stories, as you know, and I love the Mary Russell series too.

Brooke said...

I just had this series recommended to me by someone (can't remember who) so glad to see that you really enjoyed. I love Sherlock Holmes and hope to read this one soon!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Fanda - I just got a copy of the second book! Can't wait to read it.

Sandy - I think you would love Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. It's a fantastic and it's not one of the formulaic detective books.

JoAnn - I think reading Sherlock first adds to the depth of the book, but it definitely works as a standalone novel too.

Jeanne - I think you were one of the first people to recommend it to me. You were so right!

Brooke - People kept recommending it to me. I loved it.

Amy Meyer said...

This sounds fantastic. My husband and I discovered some great Sherlock episodes on Netflix last year which prompted me to go out and buy a book of Sherlock Holmes' cases. I love his character and the interplay between Sherlock and Watson. Bringing a young girl into Sherlock's world sounds like a great idea. I'm also excited about 'meeting' Mrs. Hudson, Watson etc. again.

Thanks for a wonderful review!

Carrie said...

I'm so glad you loved it! This is one of my very favorite series. I love Russell.

Andi said...

Ok, I've had some misguided, WRONG, idea of what this is about for years. WTH? Sounds awesome!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I've been meaning to read this author forever, but it hasn't happened. Glad u loved this one Melissa.

Lisa said...

I love these books as well - and pretty much everything Laurie King has written. I agree that Mary is a wonderful character, she reminds me a little of Elizabeth Peters' great Amelia Peabody (but less bossy :) You have many wonderful books ahead of you - starting with A Monstrous Regiment.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy - The new BBC version of Sherlock is my current favorite. It's so well done!

Carrie - I'm just realizing how popular this series is!

Andi - I'm curious what you thought it was now! It's really fun.

Diane - The RIP challenge was a good motivator for me.

Lisa - I'm so glad to hear the rest of the series is good!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

My most popular review on Goodreads (by FAR) is for this book... and I gave it 2/5. It was really not my cuppa.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/178444800

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Alex - I think it's funny that our most popular reviews are always ones that aren't rave reviews. No book can work for everyone!