Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

by Laurie R. King

Mary Russell is merely fifteen years old when she nearly trips over Sherlock Holmes in the Sussex Downs. Holmes, who has been retired for several years, quickly picks up on Mary's keen intelligence and invites her to his home. Eventually, Holmes begins tutoring Mary in the art of detection, scientific discovery, among other thins. After a few minor cases, Mary (called Russell throughout most of the book) is eventually taken on as a full apprentice, and helps Holmes find the daughter of an American Senator who was kidnapped in Whales. Mary then heads off to Oxford until both of their lives are threatened by and unknown attacker.

I am a huge fan of Mary Russell. I think she is very funny and I love her interactions with Holmes. Their relationship grows and changes a lot throughout the story: first she is just someone who runs into him; then she is someone that it interesting to talk with (she is very smart after all and can keep up with him); eventually she becomes his apprentice; and finally she becomes an equal (on some, but not all levels) with him. I love the development of the relationship and their brutal honesty with each other.

The bad guy (I'll call the bad guy bg) isn't really seen throughout the story. For the most part, bg pays other people to do the dirty work. Yet, bg is also always present because bg is always there taunting Holmes and using his own methods against him. Bg is truly a clever and deadly foe.

The one thing I don't necessarily like about this book (or the original Holmes' books for that matter) is that the reader is never really given all of the information that she needs to have a chance at solving the case. It's much more of an intellectual mystery where you are given lots of interesting facts about the world, mathematics, etc, but unless you know what to do with them (ie. how to use base 8), they really don't help you much in solving the case. Sometimes it's fun to pretend that you are an armchair sleuth, but in this case, I had no chance of putting it all together.

That being said, I think that King does a fabulous job of creating a story that draws you in and keeps you reading. There are 8 other books in this series, and other than one or two near the middle, I like and recommend them all.

4.5 out of 5 stars

picture taken from Laurie King's website.


Laura H said...

I have just found your blog and really enjoy it. I too like the Mary Russel series. Funny thing is no one else does. I have recommended it several times and have always received a thumbs down. Glad to know SOMEONE els likes it too.

KT said...


I've never actually met anyone that has read Mary Russell, so it's nice to "meet" someone who has. I love her - I think she's hilarious. Thanks for stopping by!