Read The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King Online

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Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villainLong retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test....

Title : The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553571653
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 405 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Beekeeper's Apprentice Reviews

  • Alexandra
    2018-12-09 14:49

    It might have been a matter of timing, or the way I experience the Sherlock Holmes canon, it might even be all Jeremy Brett’s fault. Or even Hugh Laurie’s. The fact is: I didn't really like The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.The three main reasons:MaryIt’s been a long time since I come across such a Mary Sue. Her gifts just keep piling up at an incredible speed from the first moment we (and Holmes) meet her. I got the feeling that King simply chose a favorite literary crush and then projected her wish-fulfillment fantasy.Just for fun, I’ve made a list of the things Mary excels at: beauty, wealth yet knowing the value of money, being loved by everyone almost instantly, slenderness, chess-playing, intelligence (lots of stuff included here: chemistry, maths, theology, etc), good memory, attention to detail, intuition, courage, appeasing ravenous dogs, disguises, running, climbing, aiming and throwing, tarot reading, juggling, card and magic tricks, puzzles and encryptions, accents and languages, following a trail, child psychology, curing post-traumatic stress disorder, nice hair, healing (changing gauze, applying poultices, knowing what to do in general), driving.She’s also meant to be a feminist fighting adversity, but she’s never faced with the barriers you’d expect a woman detective at the beginning of the 20th century would experience. She’s an orphan with an evil step-mother aunt, but she has amazing freedom. She goes to college, where she’s taught by a great woman mathematician and quickly becomes surrounded by supportive friends. Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Mycroft accept her immediately and even when Lestrade dismisses her as a silly little joke, he’s awed by her mental skills five seconds later. The captain of the boat she and Holmes take (un-chaperoned) to Jerusalem doesn’t even blink when Holmes introduces her as his “partner”.A perfect Mary-Sue already has a lot of annoyance-potential, but one who flounces said perfection around and treats others in a patronizing way becomes downright unlikable. Her condescension of Watson in particular made me cringe.WatsonRight from the start Mary refers to Watson as “Uncle John”, putting him in the character of the affectionate, goofy companion that Holmes tolerated for want of someone better. Holmes at times also slashes at their friendship. Six examples:Mary: Yet another example of the man’s [Watson’s] obtuseness, this inability to know a gem unless it be set in gaudy gold.Holmes: I work alone. I always have. Even when Watson was with me, he functioned purely as another pair of hands, not in anything resembling partnership.Mary on the phone with Watson: And Uncle, you must not mention this call to anyone, do you understand? (…) You are not terribly good at dissimulation, I know, but is terribly important.Mary: [Watson was] not gifted with the ability to lie, and thus could not be trusted to act a part. For the first time I became aware of how that knowledge must have pained him, how saddened he must have been over the years at his failure, as he would have seen it, his inability to serve his friend save by unwittingly being manipulated by Holmes’ clever mind.Mary: Holmes, you told me nothing, you’ve consulted with me not at all, just pushed me here and there and run roughshod over any plans I might have had and kept me in the dark, as if I were Watson(…).And the worst one, by Holmes himself, while talking to Mary: I do occasionally take the thoughts of others into account, you know. Particularly yours. I have to admit that you were completely justified in your protest. You are an adult, and by your very nature I was quite wrong to treat you as if you were Watson. I apologise.This disregard for Dr. Watson is especially hurtful because, more than your typical sidekick, he’s also a great audience surrogate. He is us, the readers. He’s as awed and humbled as we are by Holmes’ intelligence. He asks the questions we want to ask and if he wasn’t there we’d have no idea what Holmes was doing.In this book Watson is portrayed as mentally-feeble, but according to Conan Doyle he’s a capable and brave doctor and soldier, whom Holmes trusts above all and does not hesitate to call upon for both moral and physical support. Holmes often praises him for his intelligence and resourcefulness.Throughout the original books both men become very close, but in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice Holmes even forgets (!!) to warn Watson when a killer is out to get anyone he’s close with. On another occasion, Mary lies to Watson “to protect him” and mentions how this is also a common practice for Holmes. Now, Holmes often doesn’t tell Watson about his plans but I cannot remember one instance in which he willfully lied to him (maybe you can?).SherlockAlthough readers love Sherlock, he’s not supposed to be a “friendly” character. He’s an arrogant, gynophobic, cocaine-addict manic-depressive. We the “normal people” are as attracted to his brilliant mind as bunnies to head-lights. This also makes him one of the most difficult literary characters to write fan-fic about.I did not see the original Holmes in King’s version. Here he becomes just another cozy-mystery detective, toned-down and similar to so many others.A final side note to say that although I’m perfectly fine with romances with an age gap, I had problems with the 38 years difference here. Just couldn’t accept it as naturally as everyone else seems to. Why such a big gap? Was it really necessary for the plot?There, I’ve finished my rant. I’m now ready to dodge the rotten tomatoes.

  • Trin
    2018-12-11 15:10

    Sherlock Holmes pastiche/continuation/fanfic in which Holmes, retired to beekeeping in Sussex, is so impressed by the intelligence of 15-year-old feminist Mary 'Sue' Russell that he decides to take her on as his apprentice-detective. Wacky adventures ensue.Okay. There were some good things about this book. King's prose is enjoyable enough, and her dialogue is suitably witty. The narrative is rather too episodic for my taste, but there are some nice atmospheric touches. And I like the idea of Holmes being surprised, being slowly won over by someone. However. HOWEVER.There were two things I just couldn't get past. The first is that Russell really is so very much the epitome of Mary Sue-dom; she's smart and pretty and everyone likes her and oh! Is that a tragic past providing an extra source of sympathetic angst? Next it'll be revealed that she has violet eyes and Hogwarts wants her to come join Sparklypoo. But you know? I could have been generous and gotten past all that for the pleasure of seeing Holmes thrown for a loop.What I couldn't get past, though, was how shittily King/Russell treats Watson. The "bumbling idiot" angle is played up A LOT, but even worse, King makes it seem like Holmes doesn't really care about Watson at all. And I'm talking platonically; everyone can be straight in this story for all I care. But gone is the Holmes who "should be lost without my Boswell"; King actually has Holmes forget to warn Watson that he's in danger from a bomber who's targeting Holmes' friends—though he rushed to Mary's side—and nearly costs the condescendingly-called "Uncle John" his life. Why is this kind of character assassination necessary? It's possible to make new friends and find new lovers without shitting all over the old ones, and to insist otherwise seems so amateurish, the worst kind of rookie fic writer mistake.I'm actually kind of curious to see where this series goes; King, to her credit, takes it suitably slow, and I want to be convinced by the possibility of Holmes falling for someone. Who can resist incredibly brilliant but emotionally fucked up people in love? Not I. But any further reading of this series is going to be at least somewhat masochistic for me. *goes to read "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" (which has a great Watson-saves-Holmes'-life scene) to make herself feel better*

  • Felicia
    2018-11-16 17:06

    My friend Veronica Belmont recommended this book and after I watched the first episode of season 2 of the BBC Sherlock (OMG IT IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS!) I got fixated on Holmes and needed this book.IT"S SO GOOD! What a great reinterpretation of Holmes and his young apprentice, who grows to become his equal. The partnership that is formed between the two of them is so organic and believable, and Mary Russell is a whip-smart protagonist that I rooted for on every page. It's definitely not a romance book, it's much more a character study/mystery, so anyone should enjoy this for sure!

  • Stephen
    2018-11-18 21:03

    4.0 stars. I went through a lot of turmoil both in deciding to read this book and then while I was reading it. The Pre-read turmoil stems from the fact that while I have always liked the “idea” of the character of Sherlock Holmes, I have not always enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have read. They have been a bit dry for my taste. However, I LOVED The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which took the character of Sherlock Holmes and put him in bizarre and unique surroundings (i.e., fantasy, SF and horror genre settings). I thought this was a perfect marriage and still think that Neil Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald” is one of the best “Sherlock Holmes” stories ever written.So when I started looking up the background for this book, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a new, fresh take on Sherlock Holmes or simply another Holmes mystery with Mary Russell acting like a FEMALE Sherlock Holmes, which we have all seen before...case in point: JUST KIDDING, BUT IT WAS TOO GOOD TO PASS UP. Well I started the book and was instantly taken with both the character of Mary Russell and the prose and writing style of Laurie King. I also found that I really liked the character of Sherlock Holmes who was both instantly recognizable as the singularly brilliant master of deduction, but was also an older, mellower, more “human” individual that made relating to him much easier. Now during the course of actually reading the novel, which has the duo of Holmes and Russell investigating several mysteries, I did find parts of it that were dry and plodding and had me leaning towards giving the book a 3 star rating. However, the growing relationship between Russell and Holmes, together with the climax of the book and the scenes with the “mystery villain” were simply OUTSTANDING and worthy of 5 stars. Thus, all in all I thought that 4 stars was a pretty accurate representation of how I felt about the book. I think the rating of “true blue” mystery novel fans may be a bit higher and for those that don’t generally enjoy the genre, you might rate this a tad lower. However, I think most people will agree that the prose is excellent, the characters are very well drawn and the achievement of taking a character like Holmes who is so incredibly well known and show him in a new and fresh light while keeping him completely recognizable was superbly down. For that point alone, Ms King gets Recommended!!!

  • David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
    2018-12-07 18:49

    Mary Russell, also known as The Beekeeper's Apprentice, proves to be a wonderful addition to the Sherlock Holmes mythos!When 15-year-old Mary Russell almost tripped over the peculiar man while he was obsessively studying his bees, she never imagined such an accidental (and clumsy) encounter would change her life forever! But as it turns out, that man was semi-retired detective Sherlock Holmes, and when the precocious Mary is able to match wits with him (both with her deductive reasoning and her acerbic wit), a friendship begins to bloom. After training with Holmes for the next few years, Mary proves to be a valuable enough student that Holmes lets her begin to work with him on cases. However, when Mary's contributions manage to thwart the machinations of a rising figure in the criminal underworld, Mary earns a new admirer! An admirer who understands exactly how much of a threat Mary can be. And now this unseen adversary wants to make sure that Mary's next case is also her last...I shan't tell a lie, I went into this book with some apprehension...it always makes me nervous when an author incorporates a classical character into their own books. As it turns out, my fears were for naught! Laurie King does such a masterful job writing about Sherlock Holmes and his new apprentice, that I often found myself checking the cover to make absolutely sure it wasn't really written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!The book begins with an editor's note from Laurie King, informing us that the following story was not written by her at all, but rather was pieced together from documents written by an "M.R.H.". Laurie claims to have stumbled upon these writings in a mysterious package and has no idea if the events are partially or even at all true! Some might see this is a cop-out, but upon reading the book, I felt that King's rather odd claim worked beautifully with the story. There are times that Mary seems just a little too good at everything...she can deduce, she can fight, she can drive, she can juggle...she can do just about anything that doesn't require her to have come from the planet Krypton! But by giving us this disclaimer, the reader can now choose to believe that if Mary seems just a little too perfect, it may be simply be because she's embellishing things slightly (not too hard to believe, considering that Mary often comes across as arrogant, even in her "own" writings). Perhaps this truly was a cop-out by Laurie King, but I still felt it managed to enhance the story rather than detract from it.While there are a few characters that come and go, the story is definitely all about Mary & Sherlock. One thing that really amazed me about Mary was how she managed to be both amazing and flawed! Yes, she's brilliant, she's courageous...but she's also snippy at times and snobby pretty much always! Mary is very effectively portrayed as some who's just a little too smart for her own good, someone who knows so much about the world but still manages to feel like an outsider in it. By developing such a multi-faceted character, the author successfully gives Holmes a perfect companion, someone who shares many of his own talents and quirks. Another thing I really enjoyed was how the relationship between Mary and Holmes progressed. Rather than just throw Mary immediately into the action, King chooses to have Mary work on a couple of much smaller cases first. Once Mary proves her mettle, Holmes allows her to join him in his investigation of the kidnapping of an American senator's daughter. Throughout that case, Mary again demonstrates what a valuable asset she is to Holmes. One of my biggest turn-offs in novels is when a relationship develops just a little too quickly (not a fan of the "insta-love" plot device, as many of my past reviews will collaborate). So imagine my delight when I found that Russell's partnership with Holmes was paced so effectively! It really did feel like I was watching a student grow as a detective throughout the novel, rather than watching a character get thrust into the spotlight just a little too quickly!As for the story itself, I felt Laurie King knocked it out of the park! The mysteries are enthralling, and the dialogue is full of wit. The set-ups of all the various cases are quite clever, and the way Holmes and Russell solve them, even more so. In addition, there is a lot in here that will please just about any Sherlock Holmes fan. The book almost plays like a "greatest hits" version of the original Holmes mysteries, with Holmes (and now Russell) often donning disguises, cracking codes and analyzing clues just like in Doyle's mysteries. Also, many significant characters in the Sherlock Holmes mythos are referenced. Some actually make an appearance, and others are merely mentioned, but it's more than enough to prove Laurie King didn't just slap Holmes in her book to make it sell better. King truly has an intimate knowledge of Doyle's work. And I must confess, all the nods to the earlier Holmes stories made this Baker Street Irregular smile on many an occasion.King even does a masterful job with her prose. When Holmes and Russell make an unexpected side-trip to Palestine late in the novel, I feared that King was about to make a huge misstep and was throwing this in merely to prolong the mystery. But as it turned out, this act contained one of the most poignant moments between Holmes and Russell, involving a revelation the two sleuths come to after a particularly aggressive game of chess. Also, King's descriptions of the surroundings are quite poetic at times and lends an additional layer of beauty to everything. Remarkably, King pulls this off while writing this all from the egotistical Mary's point-of-view! There are times when the narrator seems almost cruel to the people she interact with (particularly Dr. Watson, whom Mary seems to view as a rival who needs to be cut-down by her). But even in these moments, King pulls off a tremendous balancing act, where it comes off not as if King herself is disrespecting Watson, but rather Mary's own insecurities that are seeping through in her rather harsh observations. A magical continuation of the Sherlock Holmes legend! If you've ever read a Sherlock Holmes book...or have even considered reading a Holmes book, you owe it to yourself to investigate this delightful mystery!Mary Russell says, "I don't know why Mr. Green keeps saying I'm egotistical, that's simply not true! Now if you'll excuse me, I must continue reading my own book and admiring how awesome I am!!!"

  • Simona Bartolotta
    2018-12-07 14:14

    Beautiful and entertaining. I'm not sure I'll read the next ones in the series, but The Beekeeper's Apprentice was even better than I expected.More detailed comment to follow!

  • Aileen Frost
    2018-12-14 20:55

    Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of mystery novels. I especially love the character of Sherlock Holmes, so I was very excited when I picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I really wanted to like this book, and hoped that it would propel me into a new and exciting mystery series.How wrong I was.First of all, Mary Russell, the narrator, may as well have been named Mary Sue Russell. This book is nothing but a fanfic that was lucky enough to be published because the main characters are out of copyright. The narrator's voice is arrogant, condescending and generally annoying. I found her unlikeable in the extreme. Since a large part of the novel involves Mary being in danger, it lead me to not really care what happened in the story. The narrator is so full of herself that it takes the author about 1/3 of the book to even get into the action of the story. The first third is "Mary Russell - the most wonderful, smart, independent girl in the world who is lucky enough to befriend Sherlock Holmes". I love good character development, but it needs to occur within the context of the plot, not have pages upon pages dedicated to it and not allow the story to progress.The writing style of the author is drawn out in such a way that it takes you out of the action. What should take a sentence or two to describe seems to take the author at least a page. And in the middle of the most exciting part of the book, Holmes and Mary decide to go on holiday in Palistine........EXCUSE ME?!?! WHY would you break up the momentum of the story like that?When the culprit is finally revealed, it is out of left field. There is no way for the reader to be able to go back and see how the enemy did it. The author even has the audacity to claim the importance of the culprit to Mary in the final pages of the book. If this person wasn't important enough for more than the required passing mention, then they really aren't important to the story.Finally, my two biggest grievances. The first is the horror that I felt when I realized that Laurie King was gearing up for a full-fledged romance to bud between a 17 year old girl and a 60-something year old man. That's when it truly became a teenage girl's fanfic. I don't understand why King couldn't have let Mary view Sherlock as a father figure. Why did the romance have to come into it?The second really heinous thing that Ms. King has done is completely RUIN the character of Dr. Watson. I don't know what her beef is, but I do know that anyone writing a book using the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson should do Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the courtesy of actually reading his short stories and novels and not rely on how the characters have been portrayed in the movies and on TV. It is obvious that Ms. King did not understand the relationship of Watson and Holmes to each other. She treated Watson as though he was a dim-witted second cousin that is to be pitied. Mary continually refers to "Uncle John" as a doddering old fool, something that made me want to fling the book across the room. She had Mary belittle Watson and explain that Holmes just barely tolerated him. It was that bad that she had Holmes completely forget about Watson at a critical momemt, choosing to have him be so concerned about Mary's life that it isn't until perfect Mary Sue - I mean Mary Russell - reminds him of Watson that he even remembers that Watson's life is in danger.Laurie R. King - do your research before destroying beloved characters. I will not be reading anymore of this series.

  • Phrynne
    2018-12-03 18:56

    This was an easy read, nicely written with some interesting characters but a couple of problems for me. Firstly I was uncomfortable with Mary only being fifteen. She is a very mature fifteen but it seemed far fetched that she could have had the freedom to do as she does in this story. Secondly I struggled with her relationship with Holmes. The author tried to explain it as father/daughter, partner, associate, friend and towards the end (when she has aged a little) more than just a friend. None of these worked for me. I wish the story had started with Mary as at least 30. Consequently I quite liked this book but will probably not seek out the rest of the series.

  • Tim The Enchanter
    2018-12-01 17:05

    Posted atThe Literary Lawyer.ca A Sweeping and Enchanting Tale - 4.5 StarsIn the past couple of years I have firmly decided that I love a great character driven novel.The Beekeeper's Apprenticefits that bill. It takes a tried and true character in Sherlock Holmes and adds a spunky young feminist into the mix. The result is an excellent novel with nuanced and complex characters. If you like your mysteries to be character driven, this one may be right up your alley. Plot summary The story is told from the perspective of one Mary Russell. It chronicles her meeting with and formation of her partnership with a 54 year old Sherlock Holmes. Holmes has been retired for many years now and spends his days tending his beehives, running his experiments and writing his magnum opus on forensic science. Mary meets Holmes as a teenaged girl. She has a quick wit and is intellectually gifted. Her and Holmes come to develop a lasting relationship. The stories covers Mary's "apprentice years" while she learns from Holmes and attends Oxford to study Chemistry and Religion. Along the way, the pair deals with some minor crimes and small cases until a bomber forces Mary's training to come to a head and requires that Holmes rely on the skills he has taught Mary. The Good The characters are superb. I am not a Sherlock Holmes fan. In fact, this is the first book I have ever read that had Holmes as a character. I cannot say that if fan of Sherlock Holmes will find the portrayal entertaining or sacrilegious. The author makes it clear that not everything you have read about Sherlock is true. While Holmes is an interesting character, the real focus is Mary Russell. She is a complex character with a painful past. This first book in this series is really a coming of age story for Mary Russell. A young strong headed feminist teenage meets the famous and talented Mr. Holmes. There is some shared experiences and a wonderful father/daughter relationship that forms between these unlikely friends and partners.The novel was beautifully situation in its historical setting. Much of the story was set against the backdrop of World War I and the novel dealt in part with the realities in Britain during that period of time . The story's historical resonance added another layer to this complex novel. The Bad From time to time, the internal logic of the story did not make sense and the characters would occasionally give mixed messages. For example, Mary Russell begins the story with a narrative of Holmes and Watson and is rather disparaging of the later and his mental acuity. Later on in the story, she indicates how incredibly fond she is of Watson and refers to him as Uncle John. There were several such incidents which took away from the overall story.The biggest fault, in my opinion, was the final confrontation with the ultimate villain. It came off as rather stereotypical and was somewhat anticlimactic after the long cat and mouse game. I was disappointed that the pair did not discover the motivation of the villain and pass it along to the reader. The author instead chose to use the gloating villain who info dumps the entire plan and motivation. The final confrontation did not live up to what I would expect from Holmes and Russell. Can this Book Stand Alone Definitely. This is the first in the series and is self contained. Final Thoughts Overall, this was an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery. The characters made the novel and I look forward to continuing the series. If you are looking for a story that deals with the later years of Sherlock Holmes or paints him is a bit of a different light, you will enjoy this story. Audiobook Notes Jenny Sterlin gives a five star performance. She is one of the best female narrators I have heard. She does an excellent job with the male voices and especially that of Sherlock Holmes. The writing and language in the novel is quite proper and period specific English. She handled it deftly and it was a pleasant listening experience.Content AdvisoriesIt is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.Scale 1 - Lowest 5 - Highest Sex-1.5 There is very little sexual content. There are rumours that insinuate Holmes and Russell are in an inappropriate relationship and a couple of scenes of awkward tension where one party needs to change or clean in front of someone of the opposite sex. Overall, it is appropriate for all ages. Language-2 Minor obscenities and language specific to the date and time. Appropriate for all ages. Violence-2.5 There are various scenes of violence but no one scene is graphic. There are physical injuries from bombings and injuries from beatings. There are several deaths after struggles and there is some psychological violence from kidnappings and hostage situations.

  • BrokenTune
    2018-11-29 14:46

    Ok, I got to page 60 and am calling it quits.The Watson bashing is already in full swing.There is a scene that was basically copied out of Pride and Prejudice.This is all wrong and too disturbing.I'm sorry, I am just not compatible with pastiche when it concerns my favourite characters.

  • Lata
    2018-11-25 14:52

    3-3.5 stars. An enjoyable mystery with a young, brilliant Mary Russell meeting middle-aged Sherlock Holmes, and eventually becoming his apprentice. The book covers a series of fairly benign, short cases the two work on together, with Mary demonstrating intelligence, quick-thinking and an inclination for action. Mary also frequently takes Sherlock to task for his at times Victorian attitudes towards women. She's smart, forthright, sensible, hardworking, and an enjoyable character to spend time with. Sherlock is often irritating and I enjoyed every time Mary figuratively thwacked him for his behaviour. The final case takes place over several months, and is interesting enough, though I found that the story veered right into melodrama (like a 1930s Hollywood film) at its denouement.

  • Werner
    2018-12-15 15:51

    One of the weaknesses of the original Sherlock Holmes canon is that Doyle doesn't offer much in the way of female characters. The only woman Holmes genuinely admired, Irene Adler, appears only in "A Scandal in Bohemia;" Watson married at the end of The Sign of Four, but his wife's presence doesn't bulk very large in the novels and stories (half the time, Doyle apparently didn't remember whether Watson was supposed to be married or not, just as he couldn't remember if the doctor's war wound was in his leg or his shoulder; that, and the fact that the author didn't write his Holmes works in chronological order, has created critical confusion as to whether there were actually two Mrs. Watsons). Mrs. Hudson, of course, is Holmes' ever-dependable landlady, and there is the occasional female client, witness, etc., but most of them are not very round characters. King has remedied this defect admirably in the person of Mary Russell, an eminently round and appealing character, a narrator who (unlike Watson) is as smart as Holmes --who isn't as "retired" as the above description suggests.This character-driven Holmes pastiche is actually better than the original novels, IMO, though very faithful to Doyle's characterizations of Holmes, Mycroft, Watson, etc. It spans several years, taking Mary up to college age (the whip-smart girl ultimately becomes an Oxford theology student --King is herself an Episcopal seminary graduate, so there's something of the author in the character), so the plot involves more than one mystery for the pair to solve together; but the climactic one will be more than sufficiently harrowing, intellectually demanding and close to home, even if it doesn't fill the whole book. Enthusiastically recommended!

  • Kaora
    2018-11-20 22:05

    When faced with the unthinkable, one chooses the merely impossible.The Beekeeper's Apprentice follows Mary Rusell, who meets the great Sherlock Holmes when she trips over him. This book follows their blossoming relationship, starting with their very first cases, moving on to one of the most clever villains ever faced.Sometimes you have to sacrifice a queen in order to save the game.I should start this off by saying I have not read the original Sherlock Holmes books. With that said I found the relationship between the characters, interesting as it develops, although I did not really like her treatment of Watson.I can see why you kept him near you. He's so... good, somehow. Naive, yes, and he doesn't seem terribly bright, but when I think of all the ugliness and evil and pain he's known... It's polished him, hasn't it? Purified him.While not all people are as smart as Sherlock Holmes and apparently Mary Russell, I thought it very sad that she thought of him as stupid. A buffoon. Almost looking down on him.Other than that I found the mysteries intriguing, and I loved the way that they interacted to solve them, although I'm not sure if this kept my interest enough to continue with the series.

  • Bonnie
    2018-11-26 20:06

    4.5 starsInterested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!If you’re in any way a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this book/series is a must read for you. I’m new to the world of Sherlock Holmes but I immediately loved him following his first book A Study in Scarlet and I desperately wanted to read more stories about him.Sherlock Holmes is now a retired beekeeper residing in Sussex Downs. Despite the fact that he is retired, his mind is still just as sharp and he still assists the police in solving local cases. Sherlock Holmes meets Mary Russell (the narrator), a 15 year old young woman, one day and recognizes her as a like-minded individual almost instantly.’The formality of his speech was faintly ludicrous considering that we were two shabby figures facing each other on an otherwise deserted hillside.’Mary quickly becomes a sidekick to Holmes and he teaches her all the tricks of his trade. Despite her young age, despite the fact that she is female, she quickly becomes an equal to Sherlock which is quite a change when compared to the relationship between Sherlock and Watson.”A conversation with you is most invigorating, Russell. That might have taken twenty frustrating minutes with Watson.”I absolutely loved how true to form Sherlock was in this book and if I didn’t love him/this book enough as is, the addition of Mary made it absolute perfection. Their dry humor and verbal sparring was delightful. They began as friends and Mary was constantly striving for Sherlock’s approval.’Ah, how sweet was the pleasure of seeing the look of appreciation spread over his face and hearing his murmured phrase, “Very good, very good indeed.” It was like coming home.’The book actually spans quite a number of years as Mary is almost nineteen by the end. The progression of their relationship was lovely and despite the fact that it could be construed as inevitable it was still a delight to witness.Reminders of my femininity always took him by surprise. However, I could not hold him to blame, for they took me by surprise as well.This has absolutely become one of my favorites and I will definitely be continuing this series. Thank you Maja for the recommendation. :)

  • Kim
    2018-12-08 19:55

    Since joining Goodreads I've discovered a taste for all sorts of books which I would have ignored only a year ago. Some books which I've read over the past few months have simply not come my way before. Others I have made a conscious decision at some point in the past not to read, but have changed my mind about, encouraged by positive reviews or a desire to participate in a group read. This book falls into the second category. Years ago I read and enjoyed King's Kate Martinelli series (although I would be hard pressed to remember much about that series now other than it was set in San Francisco). However, when I first picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice in a book store, I put it down again because I don't like anything which smacks of fan fiction and I don't like historical crime fiction. Well, that's what I told myself anyway. Now, having read the first book in this series years after it appeared because Goodreads friends whose opinion I value rated it highly, I realise that pre-conceptions can get in the way of genuine literary enjoyment. While I'm still not keen on fan fiction as such, King's skill as a writer overcomes my prejudices in that regard. Her skill as a writer also makes me realise that maybe I don't mind historical crime fiction after all. There are many things I enjoyed about this novel. I like the characters: Holmes and Russell are interesting and well-developed and while Russell has a bit of the Mary Sue about her, it wasn't enough to make me dislike her. Other characters are less well-developed, but no less so than in most crime fiction novels. I like the episodic nature of the mystery, which has a somewhat over-the-top but nevertheless satisfying resolution. I like the wit and the occasional humour. I like the fact that King didn't feel obliged to overdo the period setting with unnecessary detail. All in all, this was a really enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to Book 2. I suspect that readers with some familiarity with and liking for the Sherlock Holmes stories would get more out of this series than readers coming to the books with no such background. I also suspect that those who are passionate devotees of Sherlock Holmes would not be as keen - they'd probably have too much to criticise!

  • Alice
    2018-11-25 17:08

    This series (of which this book is the first) follows the exploits of a young woman called Mary Russell living in the earlier half of the twentieth century. This books begins in 1915. Mary is an orphan living with her aunt, whom she doesn't get along with, in the English countryside. One day while wandering the Sussex Downs reading Virgil, she nearly steps on a man lying on the ground observing bees. His name is Sherlock Holmes. King handles the inclusion of Holmes well, she even states that this is a Holmes in character much changed from Conan Doyles'. He is much older, world weary, and mocking of what he considers Watson's romantic and sensationalist writings. However, this is really Mary's book (and series) and how she grows with the aid of her mentor. Within each other the the emotionally scarred but highly intellectual Mary and the brilliant Holmes find kindred spirits. Together this unlikely partnership begins solving crimes though the development of their relationship is as much in the forefront of this book. I loved the prose and the way each character held their own distinct voice, even the secondary ones like Mrs. Hudson and Watson. And Mary, while being a young half-American Jewish feminist, doesn't seem false like many other such heroines. She is not a twenty-first century heroine transplanted, but rather remains true to the limitations of her class and times.

  • Mandy
    2018-11-25 18:04

    Ugh. This book. The narrator. I absolutely hated the style of narration. Mary narrates her own story 75 years later. Ugh. Mary. Mary Mary Mary-Sue. There are SO many incomplete stories and thoughts. Mary likes to interrupt the story with a million statements like, “But, I didn’t realize that until later” or “But, that’s a story for another time.” I hated that and it happens every two seconds! There’s an entire 40 million page scene where Mary and Sherlock are in Jerusalem where she only gives a hint of stories. All Mary says is that they broke into places, stole stuff, and did spy stuff…but that’s a story for another time. That’s all. No more details. No stories. No specifics. I can’t even tell you why it took her 40 million pages to sum it all up! I did it in one sentence! Don’t even get me started on the DESCRIPTIONS OF CHESS GAMES!! I despise chess. My one goal when playing chess is to lose in the fewest moves possible. What’s worse than playing chess? READING page after page about chess games!! If this wasn’t a book club read, I wouldn’t have finished it. Actually, while trying to finish the book, I let it expire at the library…twice. I FINALLY finished the book at stoplights on the way to our book club meeting. Don’t worry. I wasn’t driving.

  • Hannah
    2018-12-03 19:09

    Rating Clarification: 3.5 StarsIt takes guts to mess with a canon as sacred to fans as the Holmesian one. It takes skill (and a healthy dose of respect) to do it well. Author Laurie King shows off all of these traits in abundance in her debut novel featuring famed and beloved master detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick John Watson Mary Russell. Yep, you heard me, Mary Russell: half American, half Jewish, 15 years old at the beginning of the story, and 100% Holmes' equal in spirit and intellectual firepower. King pays homage to all that is best about Conan Doyle's literary creation, but adds a bit of spunk and feminine can-do with the introduction of Mary. Their initial meeting, Holmes' tutelage of his protege, their crime solving escapades all make for an entertaining read. Beyond that, her characterization of Holmes feels "right" to this fan of the original stories.I would have rated it higher but for a sloppy and "out-of-left-field" unmasking of the villain, IMO. Otherwise, it's great to know I have a new series to dive into, especially one of this caliber.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-22 19:50

    A witty, big-hearted book narrated by Sherlock Holmes's teenage apprentice-cum-partner, Mary Russell. It was a delight to be party to Russell and Holmes's verbal parrying and dry humor. Mary Russell is a heroine that would be hard not to love, with her unapologetic independence and rampant bookwormery.The dialogue from both main characters is delicious. I love passages like this, after Mary asks Holmes if her presence is inconvenient (they do make an odd pair):"To my considerable surprise, Russell, you have proven a competent assistant and, furthermore, hold some promise for becoming an invaluable one. It is, I can even say, a new and occasionally remarkable experience to work with a person who inspires, not by vacuum, but by actual contribution....You cannot help being female, and I should be something of a fool as well were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing."I should probably disclose here that I have not read any of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes work. I'm sure there are subtexts that passed me by, but my ignorance didn't detract from the reading experience. I'm curious to know how fans of Doyle's Holmes feel about this series. Anyone?

  • Lizzie
    2018-12-11 15:04

    I know I read some, maybe all, of the Holmes stories when I was a kid. My knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is mostly from the movies, though, including that unfortunate picture in which Basil Rathbone, I mean Holmes, fights the Nazis. (I just googled and there are three Holmes vs. Nazi movies, for god's sake.)Anyway, this is a perfectly adequate mystery (and I'm deliberately damning with faint praise), but the book is more about the relationship between Holmes and Mary Russell than about the mystery. I got kind of tired of the slow pace and the stilted Edwardian language, though it's well done and feels accurate. Russell is way too much of a Mary Sue to take seriously: rich, brainy, and beautiful, with a tragic past. She's supposedly under her aunt's control but she's able to do whatever she wants. Everyone from her tutors to Watson and Mycroft Holmes adore her (you'd think, given the era, they'd just dismiss her as an annoyance.) She's incredibly open minded and liberal for her time. When she and Holmes travel to Palestine you'd expect a young lady of her time and place to have disparaging things to say about filthy Arabs and that sort of thing, not to mention when they mix with working class people and impersonate Gipsys [sic:]. And surely a Jewish scholar of theology would refer to reading a copy of "the Pentateuch," not the "Jewish bible".Another problem is that just like in the Basil Rathbone movies, Watson is condescendingly treated like a doddering moron. Jeeze, he's a doctor, he can't be that dumb. I figure he must be pretty smart, if Holmes hangs around with him. He's just not as smart as Holmes. Well, people like spunky heroines, so I can see why they like this series. Lots of reviews by young women who profess their adoration of Mary Russell. But it's not for me. It's not the kind of psychological mystery (i.e., Ruth Rendell) that I like, so I'm not going to bother with the other books in the series. Too bad I bought more (used, but still) when I got this one.I don't think I'm giving anything away when I say that Holmes and Russell are going to get married in some later book. In many ways that seems less interesting than if they didn't. Say they realize they're too similar to be a good couple, a la Jo March and Laurie What's his name, or that they're both too autistic to care about each other "that way". Or if one or both of them declared themself asexual and not interested in romance. Or Mary is a Lesbian, which explains some of why she so readily dresses up in male clothing and impersonates a boy! I think I like that one the best. No, wait, Holmes has a thing for working class rent boys and this becomes part of their sex play. "'Ullo, gov'nor, got a warm place where a poor boy from the country could stay the night? Say, you dropped your pipe, why here it is. Summat else I could do for you while I'm down there?"Anyway, far more interesting if the books would explore the tensions with those situations, or how one of them falls in love with someone else and that affects their partnership. But no, it's the usual everything leads to romance plot.

  • Eve
    2018-11-16 14:50

    I was living my carefree, ignorant life until I decided to visit my best friend last November in Kansas. What do best friends do when they get together? We hunker down with slouchy pants, greasy processed foods, and keep that Netflix streaming, sugar!I introduced her to Flowers in the Attic and other awful films, and on one cold Wednesday, she started me on Sherlock. Sometimes I don’t know whether I was better off before, when I didn’t have to wait for the next year to roll around for a new season. What kind of life is that? So for all of you who can relate, what do we do with all that time in between? We read Sherlock stories, of course!I’m sad to say that I’ve never actually read any of Doyle’s original stories. I own them, but I just have no idea what to expect; I guess I am just a bit cautious, as with all classics. I wonder if the language will be too dense and over my head. When I heard about The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I wasn’t sure what to expect, either. After all, Holmes coming out of retirement accompanied by a young, female apprentice, seemed a bit farfetched. But boy was I wrong. I know the three star rating makes this review suspect, but I really, really enjoyed the historical elements of this book. Set in 1915, and a little beyond that, I found the references to Post WWI England enlightening and so cozy! Holmes is very much his INTJ self, and I couldn’t help but picture Benedict Cumberbatch in his mid 50s, though still as boyish as ever. I especially like Mary Russell’s character, and the intelligent duo they made. All the other characters are still present, too: dear, dear Watson and Mrs. Hudson. While the mystery component of the book didn’t always hold my attention, I did still find this book worth the read. It put me in mind of The 39 Steps, The Tale of Hill Top Farm and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I am looking forward to continuing the series.

  • Ashley
    2018-11-17 18:54

    I had so much fun reading this, and it was much better than I thought it was going to be. It totally charmed me. It’s a good thing Laurie King is such a good writer, and is so good at creating atmosphere and characters you can love, because she was in real danger of stepping in that quicksand trap some writers get stuck and die in, where they take something truly beloved and either try to insert themselves, or completely mangle the original thing that is loved.In this case, of course, that thing is Sherlock Holmes. And Laurie’s Mary Russell could have ended up as a literal Mary Sue*, but she’s actually a really interesting character, feisty and smart and lonely. I can see how people might balk at reading a series about a girl becoming part of a fictional world loved for so long by millions, but I’ll be danged if King doesn’t pull it off.*I normally hate when people say characters are Mary Sues because more often than not they are using the term incorrectly as a placeholder for some other thing they want to complain about. But in this case, a Mary Sue was a real thing to fear, since the term Mary Sue refers to a character, usually a young girl, written into a pre-existing fictional world so that the author can essentially become best friends with, lovers, or co-conspirators with whatever beloved characters are in that world (I believe the term originated with Star Trek fanfiction).It helps that her writing style is so engaging. It also helps that her impetus for writing the story in the first place wasn’t to insert anyone or anything into Holmes’ world, but instead Mary was born out of her own curiosity to see what a female character with a mind similar to Sherlock Holmes could do in a story. She ended up putting them together, according to the interview at the back of my copy, because she thought it would be interesting to juxtapose such a young, progressive energetic girl growing up in a post-WWI world, with an old relic of the bygone Victorian era who is essentially living out of his own time. It’s still essentially fanfiction, but it’s a great story, a great mystery, and her characters are fully fleshed out. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series if they keep being as fun as this one.And now I shall end with quotes:“My God, it can think.”“My God, it can recognize another human being when it’s hit over the head with one.”“You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing.”“He said nothing. Very sarcastically.”"Holmes handed me a cup of tepid coffee, and I sniffed it curiously.'Did you wash this out after our experiment last night? Smells like chemicals.''They’re not toxic. You’ll be fine,' he replied."“Isolate her, and however abundant the food or favorable the temperature, she will expire in a few days not of hunger or cold, but of loneliness.”

  • RavenclawReadingRoom
    2018-12-10 18:45

    3.5 stars. I used to read this series aaaaaaaaaall the time back in my late teens/early 20s, and I remember really enjoying it. So when this was a Kindle deal of the day last year, I figured I may as well see if I felt the same on reread. And I...did but I also didn't?? But really, a huge chunk of how I felt about this book this time around was related to the fact that I now work in a school and thanks to Ministerial Order 870, all school employees have had to do a LOT of training about child protection and grooming and a million and one other things. So. This is a series in which Sherlock Holmes, in his retirement, comes into contact with a bitter and slightly damaged but equally brilliant teenage girl named Mary Russell. He becomes her mentor/friend/surrogate father and once she goes off to university, they end up working cases together. (view spoiler)[The problem for me comes in knowing that later in the series, Mary and Sherlock end up married. When they first meet, she's 15 and he's 54. And knowing that they end up married just made me suuuuuuuuuuuuuper uncomfortable after all the Ministerial Order 870 stuff I've had to read in the past year. (hide spoiler)]That said, the cases were pretty fun. So there's that.

  • Sarah Anne
    2018-11-16 20:54

    Well, this ended up being wonderfully charming! I was three star enjoying it for awhile so I was surprised when the narrator kicked up the pace and turned it into a very suspenseful four stars. 15 year old Mary Russell is wandering across the downs with her nose in a book one day and unfortunately almost steps on Sherlock Holmes, who is quite rudely and unexpectedly in her way. A verbal fencing match ensues and Sherlock finds, to his utter amazement, that not only does "it think" but it is in fact female.This starts off a book that covers four years of Mary being friends with Sherlock. She starts as an apprentice and over time she works her way up to being not just an equal, but someone who Sherlock values so much that he actually puts his life in her hands. Sherlock's personality is a bit tamed down from what I expected. He's much more human and a bit less eccentric. This works fine because Mary is really the star of the book.It may be female, but it's also ferociously clever and fierce. There's never a single doubt that she's up to any task that falls in her path. I highly recommend this for anyone who just wants a fun and playful diversion that is also quite suspenseful.

  • Merve Özcan
    2018-11-23 17:03

    Daha detaylı yorum: http://www.kitabisevda.com/2017/02/ki...Ara ara sıkılsam da epey iyiydi. Sanırım Sherlock'u izlemekten, okumaktan asla bıkmayacağım.. Mary ise güzel bir tat katıyor. Kitapta paragraf girişi olmaması beni rahatsız etti, söylemeden edemeyeceğim. Sherlock sevenlere önerilir. "bir kadın bile" vurgularını göz ardı etmek zorunda kalıyorsunuz, bunu unutmayın.

  • Vanessa
    2018-11-22 18:54

    “I became, in other words, more like Holmes than the man himself: brilliant, driven to a point of obsession, careless of myself, mindless of others, but without the passion and the deep-down, inbred love for the good in humanity that was the basis of his entire career. He loved the humanity that could not understand or fully accept him; I, in the midst of the same human race, became a thinking machine.”While in the medias the only version I'll every be loyal to is BBC Sherlock, in the literary field I like to vary. I love reading the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle but also some clever retellings that fit extraordinary in the contest. I especially love female!sherlock and/or a female companion to Mr Holmes that doesn't deny or substitute my dear Watson. That's why I was a little skeptical about The Beekeper's Apprentice: I didn't really know what I was going into. Even if I loved it, though, I don't think I will continue the series: not only because this is said to be the most beautiful, but also because this is a fourteen books series and is not concluded yet. I don't have enough time to embark myself in such a journey, but, you know, never say never.This novel isn't a retelling but can be seen as a sequel to Holmes' adventures. In fact, in this book Sherlock Holmes is older (he's fifty, more or less) and retired to a private life; however, he sometimes likes to indulge himself into complicated cases, like in the past. Living in Sussex and studying bees' behaviour, he meets Mary Russell, a fifteen years old girl who is highly clever, a feminist, a serial reader, an orphan living with an abusive aunt and has the same deductive skills as him. They soon develope a friendship, where Holmes becomes Mary's mentor. The first chapters cover the four years that pass between their first encounter and Mary partying her nineteenth birthday, and at first I was a little bit unimpressed, because there was a lot of "telling-not-showing" that annoyed me. Also, Mary had bitter feelings towards Watson, thinking of him as a dull, too naif character and I was kinda upset by it. Then, though, when she finally meets him, their relationship became one of the most exquisite things in this novel. She even comes to call him "Uncle John" and I was like OMG THIS IS SO CUTE. Her relationship with Mrs Hudson was also amazing, with Mary looking up to her as a second mother. My heart fulfilled with joy.However, the plot actually sets in when Mary and Sherlock begin to work together, with Mary who's not just an assistant, but an active pawn in every plan. The first two cases were about the mysterious illness of a presumed Britain's political traitor (the whole novel is set in and after WWI) and the kidnapping of an American senator's daughter. They were fun and entertaining, especially the second one, but then the real case, the whole point of the story, came to surface and finally I came to fully love this novel.A series of attempted homicides towards Holmes, Mary and Watson happen and the various clues give nothing but an unbelievable response. I can't say anything about the mystery because I would ruin the book for you, if you actually want to give it a chance, but you have to know that I gasped and laughed and jumped by enthusiasm really hard and I loved the villain so so much! I also love that there were many hints and clues throughout the entire book, directly taken from the original stories.The relationship between the characters, too, is absolutely awesome. A more humanized Sherlock Holmes comes to care about this young girl - his perfect equal - and Mary's feeling towards him, slowly and slowly becoming of a more romantic nature, were so gorgeous - I almost weeped, at some point. Mary is a beautiful character per se, with whom I could identify. She's flawed and impulsive but she's determined and stubborn. I really loved her, ugh.Really great characters are also Watson, who is just the most adorable thing ever (and Sherlock-John relationship was so cute, I squealed a lot), and Mycroft, that finally shines unlike in the original stories. Sherlock and Mycroft's little banters were really entertaining and fun to read.I don't know what else should I say about the whole novel without revealing too much. Oh, I was almost forgetting: Moriarty is still a big thing. AND I LOVED IT.

  • Becky
    2018-12-04 18:14

    This book is one that has been recommended to me by quite a few people... I probably would have never picked it up, having practically no interest in beekeeping myself (although I certainly do think that bees are important... SAVE THE BEES!), but people kept telling me to read this, read this, read this now! So, I finally got around to reading it, only to find that the expectations that I'd set for it actually hampered my enjoyment of this book. I've only read one Sherlock Holmes story, the first one, "A Study in Scarlet", and I enjoyed it. Holmes is different than I'd ever really thought of him, since we always see him represented in that awful cape and earsie-hat with a pipe in his mouth and a magnifying glass in his hand, and a handlebar mustache, practically with a speech bubble over his head that says "Elementary, my dear Watson!". This old-fashioned fogey sleuth of a Sherlock Holmes is nothing like how he's actually represented- as an eccentric, misogynistic, drug-using genius who deep down has an intense and unshakeable love for humanity. He's quite the character. As is young Mary Russell, who contains a similarly working mind to Holmes's and who has an eye for detail and a loneliness that Holmes endeavors to fill, and in the course of this friendship, he begins to shape and mold her into his assistant. They become very close, and have a very complex relationship: part equal partnership-slash-father/daughter-slash-mentor/pupil. They respect one another, but do not shy away from saying what needs to be said. The relationship between Russell and Holmes takes center stage here. That's what the book is focused on. Russell narrates for us, and gives us more of an understanding of things from her side, and shows us not only the Holmes that people see, but the Holmes as he is. This is what the book is about, and that is made abundantly clear by the sheer amount of time dedicated to this facet of the story. Russell takes us from meeting, to meeting of the minds, to friendship, respect and then love... all the way through to the dedication and sacrifices that they are willing to endure to retain their bond. The writing style here was gorgeous and appropriate for the early 20th century language and formality that would have been in use then. The French variations of words are used to lend both an air of formality and authenticity to the time, locale and education of the characters, for instance, words like "rôle" and "débris". The writing was also very, very descriptive. Almost too much, I have to say. I know that it makes sense, and adds a believability to Russell's character to have done this - I mean, who is going to believe a 19 year old who on par with Sherlock Holmes just on her word? She's got to prove her eye for detail and retention. I get that, but here, the language, while still beautiful, hindered the story, because while I'm impatiently waiting for the action, the narration is moving along at a leisurely Sunday drive through the country pace. Add to that that the story proper didn't even get started until halfway through the book, and I have to admit I got a little impatient. I was expecting a kind of fast-paced exciting ride, with unpredictable Holmes at the wheel taking us careening through seedy London underground life, recklessly charging in and saving the day, but that wasn't what I got at all. To be honest, the mystery plot, the one that involves someone trying to kill Holmes and Russell and everyone Holmes loves, felt very much like an afterthought. Almost as if the author wanted to write about a plucky young orphan being mentored by Sherlock Holmes, forgot about the conflict until midway through, and then just edged it in where possible. I'm not saying this to fault the author -- the story was good, and the writing was great, but this is definitely one case where expectation worked against me. This is a book for a lazy rainy weekend, not one for someone looking for a vicarious thrill-ride. I may pick up the next in the series one of these days, but if I do, I think I will pick up the audio version... by all accounts it is very good, and I think that this story would lend itself to audio quite well. :)

  • Connie
    2018-12-06 21:51

    Mary Russell, a precocious fifteen-year-old, is walking with her nose in a book when she trips over Sherlock Holmes. The semi-retired detective is sitting in the grass in the Sussex Downs observing bees. Mary has been recently orphaned, and is living with a difficult aunt until she reaches adulthood. Holmes is impressed with the girl's intelligence, her skills of observation, and her powers of deduction. He becomes her friend, and later takes her on as an apprentice. His housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, acts as an affectionate surrogate mother feeding the growing girl with wonderful meals, while Holmes feeds her mind.The book is written as if Laurie R. King had received the memoirs of an aged Mary Russell in the mail, and has acted only as her editor. This may account for Mary being presented as the intellectual equal of Holmes even when she is very young. This may also be the reason why Dr Watson is presented as more of a bumbling character, rather than a helpmate to Sherlock Holmes, since Mary may have considered Watson a rival for Holmes' attention.When Holmes considers the college-aged Mary ready to help him on an important case, they head for Wales to search for a kidnapped girl. The mastermind behind the kidnapping puts them in danger later in the book. They head to Palestine to hide, and Mary tells Holmes important information about her family. The emotional, softer side of Mary is revealed. She and Holmes transition to having more emotional awareness of each other as he becomes her confidant.The book is set in 1914 when England sent most of her young men away to fight in the Great War. That helped make it more credible that Mary was spending so much time in the company of a man forty years older than her, rather than chasing college men at Oxford. It also made it more believable that a woman could become a detective in a field that was usually filled with men. Mary often disguised herself as a man for her safety, for comfort, and to resist detection when she was working.It was fun to revisit Sherlock Holmes in this charming, witty spin-off. I would encourage anyone who is interested in reading books in the Mary Russell series to start with this book since it has so much background information about the characters.

  • Caitie
    2018-11-29 20:52

    I really disliked the conceit that the book is a manuscript sent to Laurie King and the resulting first-person, memoirish narration. (The narrator often talks forebodingly of things that will happen later in the novel!) But the romance is definitely my biggest problem. I actually don't have a problem with the way Holmes or Watson were written, and the idea of Holmes as a mentor is fun and intriguing. But then my sister told me that Mary and Holmes get married, and as much as I enjoy a May/December romance... THIRTY NINE YEARS. THIRTY. NINE. She is fifteen when he meets her, and he is 54. Repulsive is not exactly the right word, but I found myself constantly repulsed by the idea that they were going to get together. I have always thought of Holmes as this asexual, introverted genius. I didn't even believe Kelly at first, but as I read it became increasingly obvious how important Mary is to Holmes, and when he was concerned about her he tended to make uncharacteristic mistakes.I have certainly read worse takes on Holmes, but I did not love this. You know what I do love, though? I love that Sherlock Holmes is like the original fandom. There might be fanfiction that predates Holmes, but actual fandom? Holmes' fans followed his adventures in the paper obsessively, wrote and shared their own, and wanked epically when Conan Doyle killed him off. Bravo.

  • Andrew
    2018-12-05 14:54

    So I finally finished the Beekeepers Apprentice - No reason due to the book, sadly more life getting in the way of things. However I have completed it and I must admit that it was a interesting one. On the one had you have yet another Sherlock Holmes story and as you can imagine there are a fair few of those, of varying quality and style - to be honest I am not sure if it even warrants its own genre (wait for it I am sure someone will tell me there is). In this case you are looking at Mr Holmes's apprentice. Now one of the things I picked up reading this was that we have a book of parts as I will explain. First we have idea that Mary Russell is Sherlocks equal. It is shown in action and in dialogue. Then we have the fact that Mary is obviously not his equal, demonstrated many ways from a lack of knowledge, contacts and experience to the fact we have a woman working in a predominantly male orientated world (I am no historian but I do know that gender equality had a massive change after the first world war but it was far from where we are today).Then we move to the book itself. We have the first half of the book set out as a series of encounters and adventures. Where we learn more of Mary Russell, her history and her personality. The book is told from her perspective as if she were recounting the episodes - very much like the accounts of Mr Holmes in the original Strand serialisations. Each episode if you like was self contained and could easily stand on its own.Then you have the second half of the book when you realise that there is something bigger afoot (sorry could not resist) which not only starts to draw together some of the earlier episodes but also extends the short self contained events in to the one long adventure. So my thoughts on the book. Well I realise that we are still at the early days of Miss Mary Russell and that we have to establish her as the central character who is more than capable of looking after herself both mentally and physically. So there will be sudden shifts in the storyline, comments about the world she lives in and how that world differs from those she knows of Sherlock and "uncle John".The book was fascinating and well read and I really enjoyed it once the bigger picture was starting to unfurl, although it was not a total shock. My only issue was that because of the early episodic style it was very easy to put the book down and get distracted. We shall see where the next one goes since this is now an established series with many more adventures to come.