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Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

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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's 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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 15, 1994

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About the author

Laurie R. King

117 books6,386 followers
Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshirts in the streets. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series follows a brilliant young woman who becomes the student, then partner, of the great detective. [click here for an excerpt of the first in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice] The Stuyvesant and Grey series (Touchstone; The Bones of Paris) takes place in Europe between the Wars. The Kate Martinelli series follows an SFPD detective's cases on a female Rembrandt, a holy fool, and more. [Click for an excerpt of A Grave Talent]

King lives in northern California, which serves as backdrop for some of her books.

Please note that Laurie checks her Goodreads inbox intermittently, so it may take some time to receive a reply. A quicker response may be possible via email to info@laurierking.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,948 reviews
Profile Image for Alexandra.
22 reviews140 followers
February 7, 2021
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:

It’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 meet her. I got the feeling that King simply chose a favorite literary crush and then projected her wish-fulfilment fantasy onto Mary.

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.

Right 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?).

Although 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.
Profile Image for Trin.
1,840 reviews564 followers
June 11, 2007
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*
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
September 18, 2012
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!
Profile Image for Aileen Frost.
30 reviews
February 3, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews758 followers
June 28, 2021
I've always thought no book that passed through my hands really deserved the lowest possible rating. The last one to do so had angered me. But this one did not. Yet it gains one star because it's one of those unashamed works of art that should be ashamed of what it's trying to do. It's very tricky to write a decent story regarding Sherlock Holmes.

I've never come across a book which is the bookish equivalent of the Shaggs. Most books are professionally written. That's because people who love to write also love to read. This book has a rich vocabulary. The tone and syntax deepen in sophistication as the story progresses. But I've read many a superior book where the meaning and point of the author were crystal clear. Among all the books that go into unnecessary details, this is the one that is sparse. Yet still, the overall experience was wretched.

This book felt like I lost a bet and had to eat my shoe. Supposing I instructed a chef to tenderize and marinade my shoe and soften it for my digestion, it's still a pain to consume. This is what Beekeepers' felt like. Yet this book has a hugely positive score. For the majority this was a licorice shoe like Chaplin dined with. For me it felt like what Werner Herzog ate.

I've no problem with the main person being a type of Mary Sue. The problem here, however, lies with the dumbing down of the cases which really felt within the prehensile motor skills of the regular police. The kidnapping and restoration of young Jessica Simpson is what I'm looking at. Just as second rate are the prelude of deductions that Holmes - I hesitate to call him that, for he felt like another regular Joe - and Mary Sue fenced with.

I glanced at the foreword where the author says that this is the same Holmes only painted in another medium and by another hand. This was not even a parody of Holmes. The Holmes I know does not hiss a retort, which he does here. He may have cackled, as when in disguise. But the final straw is when the author wrote that Holmes snarled. I'm sorry, but when adapting a classic artistic license should take a backseat to respect for canon. The reprise of a character so popular and recognizable should possess a limited flexibility.

One final thing is the entire revenge plot of Miss say-my-name Patricia Moriarty. She narrates that the complex criminal organization set up by her pater survived the latter's fall from disgrace. Not only that, but it remained active. It - her words - ran itself. That was a genuine plot hole because were it the case then wouldn't Holmes have made it his mission to properly dismantle the contraption? The author already made Holmes about 21 years old when he meets Watson, to make his current age tally with the fan fiction that she wrote. She also doesn't know what to do with John Watson. Despite all these aberrations, I'm willing to read the further adventures of this bizarre Sherlock and his sidekick Mary Sue just to see the myriad ways a train wreck can be set up. This is not an amateurish product. It's well written but it's a bubblegum ripoff that gives the term bells and whistles a bad name.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
March 2, 2011
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:


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

January 6, 2015
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!!!"
Profile Image for Sean Gibson.
Author 6 books5,795 followers
August 8, 2019
Let’s get this out of the way up front: I’m in the tank for Sherlockian pastiches. That’s not to say that I love them unreservedly and unabashedly, mind you, or even consume them in mass quantities; but, it does mean that I’m very open to them, particularly if they do one of two things: 1) hew as closely as possible to the canonical stories in terms of style, feel, and setting, making allowances for twists and spins that add a well-crafted element of modern sensibility (see, for example, the BBC’s Sherlock); or 2) hew closely to the canonical stories in terms of style, feel, and setting, but creepily work in actual supernatural phenomenon, something that Holmes himself would frown in if he could ever be bothered to take the needle out of his arm (see, for example, The Revenant of Thraxton Hall: The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). If they do one of those things, I’m totally there, and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is a sterling example of the former (alas, none of the bees are zombies; I consider it a missed opportunity…next time, perhaps).

Fairly or not, Watson has become something of a punching bag over the course of time, the moronic everyman whose dim-witted loyalty made him the ideal companion and chronicler but pretty useless as a partner. Enter teenager Mary Russell, a better suited complement to Holmes whose intellectual horsepower is equal to Holmes’ own, but whose lack of practical experience makes her the ideal lump of clay for Holmes to mold into his successor. Holmes hasn’t quite entered his dotage, but is semi-retired and seemingly content to keep his bees until Russell stumbles into his life around the time of the Great War, which puts some necessary distance between the canon and this tale.

Hijinks ensue when a mysterious foe starts trying to bump off Sherlock and his closest friends—though is said foe REALLY trying to shuffle them off the mortal coil, or does this nefarious villain have an ulterior motive—or, at least, an intermediate goal before shuffling the whole pack of ‘em off the mortal coil?

I won’t spoil the tale, though I will say that my theory on who was behind this shenanigannery proved to be far less astute than my long-ago contention that Hootie and the Blowfish is the most underrated band of the 90s (WHO’S LAUGHING NOW, HUH? HUH, MUSIC SNOBS*?? WHO IS LAUGHING AT THE MOST POPULAR TICKET OF THE SUMMER OF 2019?? BECAUSE I AM NOT AND WHY AM I STILL YELLING??). What I will say is that King marvelously captures the vibe, spirit, cleverness, and adventure of a Holmes yarn while answering in a way that is, if not definitive, certainly archetypal, the question of what Holmes would have been like if he had been a woman.

(Side note: I understand that our burgeoning understanding of gender fluidity might make the notion of a “male” Holmes and a “female” Holmes objectionable to some, but King so thoughtfully considers the similarities and differences of men’s and women’s minds, at least as we have historically perceived those distinctions, that she indelibly renders a character who, while undoubtedly indebted to her prototype, is wholly her own person, and one whose further exploits I look forward to reading.)

A huge thanks to Allie for the recommendation (delight!). Go read her fabulous review.

(*See? It's not just me: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/06/ar...)
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
754 reviews207 followers
April 24, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,320 reviews2,140 followers
July 24, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books598 followers
August 22, 2008
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!
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,920 reviews385 followers
June 28, 2019
***2019 Summer of Sherlock***

Holy mixed feelings, Batman! On the one hand, Laurie King is a really good writer. On the other hand, I’m unsure about how I feel about her treatment of Sherlock Holmes.

King has not just borrowed Holmes, she has kidnapped him. And held him long enough that he is exhibiting Stockholm Syndrome and is participating in her nefarious scheme. Most of the time, I could just let go of the Conan Doyle version of our hero and enjoy King’s version, but every now and then the differences would simply slap me in the face and I would be unhappy for a page or two.

I can see why people love this series. After all, Sherlock Holmes is one of the great stories of our culture, in all his arrogant and misogynistic glory. There are LOTS of books that try to shoehorn women of one description or another into the tale and I completely understand this impulse. It’s about representation and women writers are inserting a female dimension into the mythos. I absolutely appreciate that and that one of the reasons that I ended up liking this book as much as I did. But the purists won’t be fans. This is certainly a version of Holmes that I will never recommend to my gentleman friend, who is a devoted aficionado and remains unamused by people messing with what he considers to be perfection.

In short, if you’re not deathly serious about the Sherlock Holmes canon, you may be willing to play along with Laurie King and enjoy the adventures of Mary Russell. If you do treasure the Holmes of Conan Doyle, I would encourage you to give this novel a try, but don’t be distressed if you are unable to get into it.
Profile Image for Mandy.
449 reviews9 followers
November 25, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Tim The Enchanter.
355 reviews181 followers
October 5, 2014
Posted at The Literary Lawyer.ca

A Sweeping and Enchanting Tale - 4.5 Stars

In the past couple of years I have firmly decided that I love a great character driven novel. The Beekeeper's Apprentice fits 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 Advisories

It 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.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,673 followers
April 30, 2021
I've been aware of this series for years, and I know a lot of people love it, but haven't really felt a big push to read it myself. I like Sherlock Holmes, but I'm not a super fan or anything. My mom's book club just read it, though, and she passed her copy on to me, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I thought it was a very fun Holmes romp, with plenty of callbacks to the original as well as introducing the new character of Mary Russell, a clever young woman who sees the retired Holmes as a mentor and father figure. King is a great writer, with lots of sensory input that really put you into the middle of the crime scenes.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,764 reviews205 followers
April 6, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Lizzie.
511 reviews24 followers
July 23, 2010
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.
696 reviews110 followers
June 22, 2021
I have a confession to make--I do not especially like Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. I find him exceedingly arrogant and while I concede that it was necessary for the author to depict him this way, it didn't make me like him.

I did not read any books in this series for a long time because of my dislike. This was definitely a mistake. The first book in Laurie R. King 's Mary Russell (& Sherlock Holmes) series is a gem. Oh she kept Sherlock Holmes as arrogant but seeing him through Mary Russells eyes I felt that I could understand the man better.

I loved Mary Russell. Her natural curiosity, interest in learning and new things, sense of adventure, and especially her way of coping in difficult situations made her thoroughly a great companion to Sherlock Holmes. Her worry about getting things right and her extreme myopia (to which I can really relate) kept Mary human.

Laurie Kings detailed way of writing about the areas that she was describing, and the wonderful richness of the adventures told made me feel like I was on a vacation...what a wonderful experience!
Profile Image for Emma.
2,505 reviews855 followers
February 18, 2019
An easy enough read but a bit bland. I've wondered whether to read this book for at least a couple of years so I'm glad I finally jumped in to the series, if only to find out whether it was for me. It was not.
Profile Image for Kim.
426 reviews511 followers
August 18, 2011
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!
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,376 reviews928 followers
November 15, 2015
4.5 stars

Interested 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. :)
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,848 reviews146 followers
June 17, 2021
A Good One

This was a really entertaining book. To be honest I didn’t know what it was about but because so many people had it on hold at my library. So, I submitted my name and got in line. It was a wonderful surprise.

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, this one’s for you. Even though it is still in the 1910s era, it is a bit updated. Dr. Watson has been replaced by a female character who is also the narrator of the story.

I am not a Sherlock Holmes fan but I do enjoy the well written books. So it felt no different or had a negative impact from having a sidekick who is female.

Like most of Sherlock Holmes books the pace is fast and surprises are many.

Enjoyable book that I recommend
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,765 reviews1,766 followers
February 7, 2017
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.”

Profile Image for Eva Gavilli.
274 reviews85 followers
April 20, 2023
Mi ha fregato la copertina, mi sono lasciata affascinare ed ho pensato che potesse essere un libro molto valido. Per niente: noioso, lento, privo di interesse, rende Sherlock Holmes poco più di una macchietta (del pesonaggio originale ha poco più del nome), manca del tutto di atmosfera. Sconsigliato.
The book cover deceived me: I let myself be fascinated and I thought it could be a very good book. Not at all: boring, slow, uninteresting, makes Sherlock Holmes little more than a caricature (of the original character he has little more than the name), completely lacking in atmosphere. Not recommended.
Profile Image for Alice.
45 reviews3 followers
December 27, 2007
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.

Profile Image for Jessica.
564 reviews135 followers
April 26, 2008
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?
Profile Image for Hannah.
797 reviews
September 29, 2011
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

It 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.
Profile Image for Kristie.
868 reviews380 followers
July 6, 2020
I really enjoyed this story. I thought the writing was excellent and the character of Mary Russell fit well into Sherlock Holme's later life.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews52 followers
March 4, 2014
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.
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