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The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
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The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994)

by Laurie R. King

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,0682641,460 (4.08)454
A chance meeting with a Sussex beekeeper turns into a pivotal, personal transformation when fifteen-year-old Mary Russell discovers that the beekeeper is the reclusive, retired detective Sherlock Holmes, who soon takes on the role of mentor and teacher.
Recently added byKizumi, rena40, Serrana, BookWormWillow, TSealine, Carmelreader, RegalKnieval, private library
  1. 120
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (clif_hiker, 47degreesnorth)
    47degreesnorth: Younger heroine and more precocious but similar
  2. 60
    A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King (catpal1)
    catpal1: All of the books in this series are wonderful. It's such a fresh take on the Sherlock Holmes fiction: the give-and-take reminds me of the old Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy pairings.
  3. 50
    A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (47degreesnorth)
  4. 40
    The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer (markusnenadovus)
  5. 30
    Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (Sally604)
    Sally604: Mysteries set in the same era with a female detective - lots of fun to read.
  6. 30
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (47degreesnorth)
    47degreesnorth: No Holmes but younger more precocious heroine with a thirst to solve the case.
  7. 20
    New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Martin Harry Greenberg (Othemts)
  8. 20
    Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal (yonitdm)
    yonitdm: They both feature brilliant, strong women as main characters, plus mystery, intrigue, and many, many cups of tea.
  9. 20
    The Final Solution. A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (laytonwoman3rd)
    laytonwoman3rd: This book also features an elderly beekeeper who does some detecting, and who we are meant to understand to be Sherlock Holmes, although his name is not mentioned.
  10. 10
    Chalice by Robin McKinley (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: To continue a bit of the bee theme.
  11. 00
    And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (nessreader)
  12. 00
    A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (Othemts)
  13. 00
    Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon by Larry Millett (Othemts)
  14. 01
    Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith (clif_hiker)
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» See also 454 mentions

English (261)  Piratical (1)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (264)
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
I stumbled over "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" and fell in love with it after only a few pages. As the audiobook was recorded in 2014 I thought I had discovered a hot new talent to share with the world. Then I noticed that I was reading the "20th Anniversary Edition" and realised that I was catching up with an author I should have been reading for year.

The upside of this is that there are twelve more books in the series already, so a feast lies ahead of me.

The beekeeper's apprentice of the title is Mary Russell. She is as old as the century (or at least she was when the book was written in 1994) and is looking back on her long association with Sherlock Holmes whom she first bumped into on the Sussex Downs in 1915, when she was a teenage girl recovering from a recent calamity and seeking refuge in books and long walks. Sherlock Holmes, in his fifties and allegedly retired, now lives in the country, keeping bees and writing papers on the topics such as how to disguise one's footprints.

The book spans a four-year period which lays the foundation for a long-term relationship between Russell and Holmes. During this time the two are involved in three "cases" plus a side trip to Palestine. While the cases and the means of solving them are very reminiscent of Conan Doyle's Holmes, the man himself is quite different. The Holmes Russell sees is older, more humane, and (eventually) more willing to share than his earlier self. Russell is intellect and focus, seasoned by guilt beyond her years and more than ready both to challenge and learn from Holmes. Russell and Holmes and the relationship between them are the heart of this book. The cases are there only to set that heart racing.

The pace of the book, while not as slow as the original Conan Doyle stories sometimes were, is still leisurely by modern standards. I think it is all the better for that. I liked the idea that Russell and Holmes, on a desperate search to find a missing girl, still take days to reach the scene of the crime so that they can arrive in disguise, using the right form of transport. The finally case includes a side-trip to Palestine of several weeks. It is not strictly necessary to the plot and we find out very little about the assignment that Russell and Holmes have been on but their passage through the desert is uses to season and strengthen their relationship in ways that seem authentic to me.

If you are already a fan of Holmes then this book revisits that universe in a way that invigorates and refreshes while still honouring and building on the original (Think what "Dark Knight Rises" did for Batman or what "Into Darkness" did for Star Trek). If you've never read Conan Doyle this book will still carry you along on its merits and may even tempt you to try some of the "original" material for yourself.

I suspect that this is a love/hate book. If the style of writing doesn't grip your imagination and win your heart by the end of Book 1 of the novel, then this is not for you. If, like me, you are entranced, then another eleven or so books lie in your future. ( )
  MikeFinnFiction | May 16, 2020 |
King gets the character of Holmes down to his bones. And Mary is a fun, occasionally petulant, female partner who is every bit as intelligent as her detective tutor. There are some parts that require a bit of active suspension of disbelief, but as a lifelong reader of Sherlock Holmes stories, this was both a trip down memory lane and an introduction to a new series. Thoroughly enjoyable. ( )
  ChristopherSwann | May 15, 2020 |
Brilliant. Imaginative, well-written, intelligent. Loved it. ( )
  rodweston | Apr 23, 2020 |
For a little while, I was ready to tear apart The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I found the writing bit flat and there was a scene early in the book that involved characters tinting the color of their skin for a disguise. Still generally intrigued, I waited it out. This review is going to be mostly informative – no passion one way or the other. To be honest, I’ve never been intrigued enough by Sherlock Holmes to pick up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, and The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was very much a cover pick. Seriously – that honeycomb cover is gorgeous.

Despite my initial misgivings, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice stepped back from racist undertones and addressed a bit of the prejudice against the Romani people. The deeper I got into the book, the more it felt like not only was Laurie R. King honoring the Sherlock Holmes character, but also addressing the unfortunate choices that had been made by Doyle in writing in the first place. More than once does Holmes appear in a garish and unnecessary disguise, which Mary Russell internally tears apart. At one point, she finds herself in a safe house and spends some time pondering the unlikeliness of the location. Without reading the original Holmes work, I got the impression that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made a lot of ridiculous choices, and while Laurie R. King respected her source material, she also spent some time correcting it. And I appreciated that.

The writing, as I said, felt flat to me. Again, this could be King trying to emulate Doyle’s writing style, which I could certainly see. The characters are guarded and there’s a lot of dialogue. I didn’t get a sense for what Mary Russell, our protagonist, looked like until we were about halfway through the book. The story also ambles, and while it all comes together at the end, I felt like it took the scenic route in getting there. To be honest, I kept speeding up my audiobook because while I didn’t want to DNF it – I wasn’t quite that bored and had already invested a lot of time – I just really wanted the story to get on with it already.

I suppose The Beekeeper’s Apprentice does just fine for its genre and while it wasn’t my particular cup of tea, I can appreciate it as a successful next-generation evolution for a beloved classic character. Fans of Sherlock Holmes will most likely enjoy Mary Russell’s tales and seeing their favorite sleuth brought back to life. For myself, the pacing was just murder and the voice dull, so I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with the series. But it was a good book for what it was, and I can appreciate that. ( )
  Morteana | Feb 22, 2020 |
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King begins with fifteen-year-old Mary Russell stumbling over her neighbor Sherlock Holmes who has retired to the Sussex Downs to take up beekeeping.

From that chance meeting between two similarly brilliant minds, the novel unfolds wonderfully, following the friendship as it becomes a partnership. All the familiar Holmes' characters from Mrs. Hudson to Watson to Mycroft appear as well. I loved this book in so many ways not least of which was the gorgeous, overflowing prose. I am so excited that this is the first in a series. ( )
  witchyrichy | Jan 4, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Laurie R. Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For another M.R., my mother, Mary Richardson
First words
I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and I nearly stepped on him.
Quotations
He said nothing. Very sarcastically.
My main passions were becoming theoretical Mathematics and the complexities of Rabbinic Judaism, two topics which are dissimilar only on the surface.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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U raskošnoj galeriji likova koju je za sobom ostavio Arthur Conan Doyle gdje središnje mjesto zauzima portret Sherlocka Holmesa, pored njega, osim slike dr. Watsona, ostao je prazan okvir savršeno podoban da udomi prkosni profil jedne gospođice.
Američka književnica Laurie R. King, dobitnica dviju prestižnih nagrada za najbolji kriminalistički roman godine, odvažno je odlučila ispuniti taj okvir likom mlade Mary Russell.
Jednog sunčanog dana u travnju 1915. nedaleko od svoje kuće u Sussexu Mary Russell umalo je nagazila na pognuta pedesetogodišnjaka potpuno zaokupljena promatranjem pčela. Drska i načitana, petnaestogodišnjakinja briljantna uma i zadivljujuće sposobnosti dedukcije, izmamit će od inače ženama nesklonog Holmesa iznenađen komentar. “Pa to zna razmišljati!”
Tako će početi naukovanje Mary Russell, buduće suradnice djelomično umirovljenog slavnog detektiva Sherlocka Holmesa. Njihove zajedničke avanture zabilježene su u pet dosad objavljenih romana i zacijelo predstavljaju najvjerniji nastavak književnog rada Arthura Conana Doylea.
Laurie R. King u svojim je djelima uspjela vjerodostojno dočarati ton, ugođaj i duh vremena, zadržavši izvornu cjelovitost Holmesova karaktera i pritom kao ravnopravnu protutežu stvorila potpuno samostalan, oštrouman, duhovit i zanosan ženski lik.
Roman Pčelareva naučnica Laurie R. King s engleskoga je, u ukradenom vremenu između dvije Patricije Cornwell, prevela Martina Gračanin, a ilustraciju na naslovnici izradio je Igor Kordej, uz napomenu da su oba crna lovca namjerno naslikana na bijelim poljima jer negativci uvijek igraju prljavo.
Haiku summary
Old Holmes meets his match
She's his child-bride and partner
Together they sleuth
(pickupsticks)

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