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Beekeeping for Beginners [short story] by…
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Beekeeping for Beginners [short story] (2011)

by Laurie R. King

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This is a quick glimpse at how it all began, when Sherlock Holmes met Mary Russell. On the very day he set out looking for a peaceful place to end it all, he met his future instead.
It's 1915, war is raging & the Lusitania has been sunk by the Germans. Holmes is 54 & after being gently pushed out of the action by the British government, he's licking his wounds at his estate in Sussex. Depression has always been lurking in the shadows & the great detective used his work to keep it at bay. Now, with no cases to solve & bored out of his mind, Holmes begins to consider suicide. His practical brain believes if one can't be useful, one is just taking up space.
He sets out to follow some wild bees, bringing along a little bottle to drink once he's found the perfect spot. Unfortunately, he's soon interrupted by a young lad in grubby clothes. Initially annoyed, he can't help but notice the youth is both smart & observant. When his cap comes off, he also notices the long blond braids. A girl?
Mary Russell is staying on the estate she inherited when her parents died. She lives with a greedy aunt & her boorish son, treated more like the hired help than an heiress. She has plans to go to Oxford but in the meantime, can't resist Holmes' offer to tutor her.
Both Watson & Mrs. Hudson are gobsmacked when Sherlock takes on an apprentice & seems interested in life again but hey....whatever puts the spring back in his step. What none of them can know is the next case he takes on will be one to save Mary's life.
If you've read the other books in this excellent series you have some idea of what to expect: great characters, intrigue, wonderful prose & intelligent dialogue infused with a dry wit.
It was a pleasure to read about the start of their remarkable relationship while impatiently waiting for the next book. ( )
  RowingRabbit | Sep 14, 2014 |
I wasn't very impressed by this book. It was missing the spark that I find in the original Sherlock Holmes stories. The fictional Twitter interview at the end of the book was absolutely terrible (here's a taste: "OK 4 LRK 2 giv me yr contact info?" Ugh!! It was even referred to as a "twinterview". Lame.) - but I don't think that it's fair to let that affect my rating of the book. I've read other reviews which indicate that this effort was less successful than the other books, so I might decide to give the series another shot at some point. ( )
  ScribbleKey | Jan 10, 2014 |
This is a novella in the Mary Russell series, of which there about a dozen books to date. In them King gives Sherlock Holmes a female counterpart and professional and, eventually, romantic partner in the unlikely person of Mary Russell, a Jewish American forty years younger. She sets all these tales after 1914, when the last of the Arthur Conan Doyle originals were penned. This particular story is set in the time frame of the first novel in the series, The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I don't know if someone unfamiliar with the series would be charmed, but I sure was. It was a lot of fun, particularly since the series is almost always from Mary's point of view, so it was great getting Holmes perspective for once. My only complaint was that it was all too short--only 60 pages. Especially considering that aside from seeking out the short story "Mrs Hudson's Case" I'm afraid I now have to withstand the pangs of withdrawal. No more Mary Russell for me until the new book by King due in early 2015. At least this one left me grinning. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Dec 31, 2013 |
No real new information when it comes to the characters or plot history. It just tells the meeting of Holmes and Russell from Holmes' perspective. A nice short audiobook to listen to while doing some chores around the office. ( )
  akswede | Oct 14, 2013 |
Beekeeping for Beginners by Laurie R. King was originally published as an online novella and ebook for fans of her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series. Recorded books then released an audio version, read by Robert Ian MacKenzie.

Although in publication order this book is the eleventh, chronologically it's a retelling of the early events in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. In the originally, everything is told from Mary's point of view. As this novella reveals, she isn't a very reliable narrator as she glosses over the details of her meeting with Sherlock and the events immediately following.

This time we are given two points of view: that of Sherlock and of his housekeeper who has followed him to the countryside in his retirement. Having Sherlock's version helps to explain some of his enigmatic behavior early on. Sure, he's canonically off-putting but he seems even off for himself. Now we get the other side of the conversation and it's heartbreaking. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 8, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
To the new bee
First words
Any reasonable man may reach a point in his life where self-destruction becomes a door worthy of consideration. A point at which it seems that the least a walking anachronism can do for the world is to remove himself from cluttering the landscape.
Quotations
There's nothing quite so handy as a nice controlled explosive device.
Rule One of surveillance is the same as that for beekeeping: Remain calm. Attitude is all, when it comes to disguise. If one does not emanate tension - rather, if one only emanates the diffuse tension of any ordinary city-dweller - even a suspicious eye will not snag upon one's figure.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Sherlock Holmes is fending off a particularly dark mood as he roams the Sussex Downs, in search of wild bees. The Great War may be raging across the Channel, but on the Downs, the great detective nears terminal melancholia - only to be saved by an encounter with headstrong, yellow-haired young Marry Russell who soon becomes the Master's apprentice not only in beekeeping but in detection.… (more)

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