New Read: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King, the first Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, has been on my to-be-read pile for far too long! I picked it up a few years ago after starting to read/love Doyle’s classic Holmes stories. Finally taking part in the What’s in a Name event 2016 has encouraged me to read it.

One cool, sunny day in 1915 Mary Russell is taking a walk over the Sussex Downs with her nose firmly planted in a book – where she almost tramples an eccentric gentlemen who is out on the Downs counting bees. This eccentric gentlemen is none other than Sherlock Holmes, the renowned private detective, who in his retirement has moved to the country and taken up bee keeping. They immediately strike up an unlikely friendship. Under Holmes’ tutelage Mary begins to grows in knowledge, strength and confidence until she is able to solve some dastardly crimes herself.

When we first meet Mary Russell that sunny day in 1915 she is only 15 years old. Tragically her parents and brother were killed in a car crash leaving her a wealthy orphan. As she is not of age though she must suffer her unpleasant aunt living with her as her guardian. Her friendship with Holmes gives her an escape from her loneliness and boredom. While the age gap is a little creepy when you think about it I didn’t mind because their personalities suited each other so well. I enjoyed watching Mary grow physically and as a character – until she is 19 years old, studying at Oxford University and ready to start helping Holmes fight crime; because Holmes wouldn’t know how to completely retire even if he wanted too.

One of the first crimes Mary and Holmes tackle is the kidnapping of an American Senator’s young daughter while holidaying in Wales. This crime had everything I could have hoped for: an isolated setting, secrets, danger and Mary and Holmes go incognito as Romany travellers; brilliant! Mary and Holmes learn a lot from this first crime together which will stand them in better stead for when they face real danger to themselves and their friends later in the novel. The first half of this book was slower but once we hit the real danger and mystery I had trouble putting this down!

Since I bought this book I have really fallen in love with Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes novels and short-stories. While I don’t feel Holmes was the main protagonist of this book, I do think Laurie R King has drawn him well – he is older, in a new situation and solving new crimes but I always felt what King had him do and say was believable. I think I will always prefer Doyle’s classic stories however I did thoroughly enjoy getting to join Holmes in more adventures through King in this book. I would definitely be interested in reading more from this series and King.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was a comforting, nostalgic and thrilling adventure for me, which helped me to escape the dreary weather of January. Good read.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any other spin-off Sherlock Holmes books?

What’s in a Name 2016 – A Profession (1/6)


10 thoughts on “New Read: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

  1. I love this book! Not as good as the Holmes canon, but still such fun. I’m a fan of the series over all, some books more than others.

    (Just popped over from the Classics Club group check-in thingie, saw you’d reviewed this, and had to know what you thought of it.)

    1. Hello Hamlette, thank you for stopping by and commenting – it is always lovely to hear from a new face, especially a fellow classics clubber 🙂 I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this series as I have two more books from it to read now.

  2. This was one of my favorite books for a while – I say “was” only because it’s been years and years since I last re-read it, not because it’s fallen out of favor. I know people who adore the whole series, and while I liked later books in the series, the first one I loved the best.

    1. Hello Christy, how lovely that this is one of your old favourites 🙂 It is also great to hear you know people who adore the whole series as I recently got my hands on two more books from the series; O Jerusalem and A Letter of Mary. I am looking forward to reading them!

  3. I’ve heard lots of good things about this series and have enjoyed Laurie R King’s writing in another series. But I just can’t bring myself to read these – Holmes with a woman?!? Sacrilege! 😉 Glad you enjoyed it, though!

  4. I enjoyed this too and have also read the second book in the series, but haven’t got round to continuing with the third one yet. I found the age difference between Mary and Holmes slightly disturbing at first, but they have such a great relationship I was able to forget about it after a while.

    1. Helen I am pleased to hear you enjoyed book 1 and 2 of this series. I would like to read further so I will keep my eyes peeled for copies of the rest of the series; especially in my favourite charity book shop where I got this from 🙂

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