The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Or, on the Segregation of the Queen

Book - 1996
Average Rating:
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In 1915, long since retired from his observations of criminal humanity, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. Never did he think to meet an intellect to match his own--until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a very modern fifteen-year-old whose mental acuity is equaled only by her audacity, tenacity, and penchant for trousers and cloth caps. Under Holmes's tutelage, Russell hones her talent for deduction, disguises, and danger: in the chilling case of a landowner's mysterious fever and in a kidnapping in the wilds of Wales. But her ultimate challenge is yet to come. Soon the two sleuths are on the trail of a murderer whose machinations scatter meaningless clues…but whose objective is quite unequivocal: to end Russell and Holmes's partnership--and their lives.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, c1996, c1994
ISBN: 9780553571653
0553571656
Characteristics: 405 p. ; 18 cm.

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Brontina66
Oct 26, 2017

The reason why I gave this book a "good" rating is the obviously great amount of work and research that the author has done. There is a clear attempt to re-create a true "Sherlock Holmes" atmosphere and the addition of a woman sleuth is certainly welcome - at least for me. I have always thought that Conan Doyle's story - although intriguing and captivating - were a bit, well, patriarchal. There didn't seem to be much room for intelligent women in Baker Street, but this is just my opinion. "The Beekeeper's Apprentice" introduces a pleasant, funny character in Mary Russell and the bantering between her and Holmes is certainly entertaining. All this said, however, I found some parts of the story a bit strained. First of all, that fact that Mary is only 15. She is an independent minded young woman, true, but I really doubt that a Victorian teenager would have been able to spend all that time alone with an older man without any scandal or at least concern. However, we are required to suspend our disbelief, right? Then, overall, I didn't really have the impression that Mary (or Holmes, for that matter) were the great brilliant minds that we (or at least I) expected them to be. Sometimes, they both sounded rather obvious. However, the book was entertaining, well-structured, well-researched and I like the idea of a feminine perspective, so I certainly recommend it.

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mammothhawk229e
Aug 12, 2017

Pretty good book. However, quality slowly waned later on in the series.

multcolib_susannel Jun 25, 2017

When fifteen year old Mary Russell meets an reserved beekeeper she does not suspect him of being the famous Sherlock Holmes.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 04, 2017

While written much later, I would suggest reading the short story "Beekeeping for Beginners" before embarking on The Beekeeper's Apprentice as it gives the backstory of how Holmes and Russell actually meet and is a helpful segue into understanding how long Russell has been at Holmes' side when this story begins.

While Mary Russell hasn't reached the age of majority and her inheritance, here we get to see her blossoming in confidence at both college and as a partner to Sherlock Holmes. In fact, at one point she catches a slip-up by Holmes that could have cost someone's life.

The story seems to be a series of stories that Conan Doyle would have published independently, but by the end, all the strings come together and the final mystery is revealed. Altogether a fun read and if you're a fan of Holmes, you're sure to enjoy the scenes with Mycroft, and the reference to Conan Doyle as the "publisher" for Watson's stories. Poor Watson does get some rough treatment as a well-meaning but often blundering old friend that Holmes is glad to replace with someone more his intellectual equal. But if you don't find this series true to your vision of Watson, may I suggest Robert Ryan's Watson series.

AL_LESLEY Nov 10, 2016

It could barely hold my attention. I'm tired of Victorian mysteries... I need some grit and ummphf and dirty to my mysteries. But I'm sure if you love Victorian mysteries this would be overwhelmingly perfect for you.

j
jsjs
Sep 13, 2016

This book was recommended to me by Melanie at the Stratford Public Library. I am not even remotely the "fan fiction" type, so I was skeptical, but WOW, I loved this book. It's intelligent, and the development of the central relationship is beautifully done. The author brings Sherlock Holmes alive in a new way: he's the Holmes we know from Conan Doyle's famous novels, but through the eyes of Mary Russell (who is very like him but is also a strong, unique character in her own right), we see more of the multi-dimensional man who could have existed behind the cryptic persona in Conan Doyle's stories.

Thank you, Melanie, for recommending this book!

theycallmehoops Jul 04, 2016

This title was recommended to me by a customer based on my interest in Sherlock Holmes. It was a fun and well-written read. It was a little slow at times, but I've read the series gets even better as it progresses.

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pokano
Nov 18, 2015

The premise is that an exceptionally bright college-aged young woman, Mary Russell, in Victorian England becomes an apprentice to a middle-aged Sherlock Holmes, who now lives out in the countryside where he raises bees. The book is written in the style of Conan Doyle, with all the usual characters, although Doctor Watson is obviously relegated to a lesser role, since Russell is now Holmes' sidekick. The author of this first book in a series writes well, but she is not Conan Doyle, so occasionally my interest in the story line would wane, but the book was good enough so that I look forward to reading the next volume in the series.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 18, 2014

The delightful young Mary Russell becomes acquainted with the elderly Sherlock Holmes who in his retirement is keeping bees. She becomes his chess opponent and eventually his apprentice. Together they solve many minor crimes with the assistance of Holmes' brother Mycroft and Dr. Watson until someone's murderous intent puts them all in grave danger. I enjoyed a kindly Holmes appreciating the intellect of his youthful protege.

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GhostWriter221b
Oct 17, 2014

I am a major Sherlockian and I must confess that this is on my 'Top Fifty' list! I adore Laurie R. King's writing style, the development of Russell, and the riveting, enigmatic character of Holmes. I fell in love with the 'Sherlock Holmes' fandom all over again!

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MADKC4Ever
May 29, 2014

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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turbo12
Jul 07, 2013

turbo12 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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kitten97
Jul 15, 2012

kitten97 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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Tanith
Jan 09, 2011

Tanith thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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jeremy2432
Jun 15, 2015

This is the story of Sherlock Holmes as an older man working with a new partner. Unlike Watson, Mary Russell matches Holmes in wits and intelligence, but is anxious to learn from his experience. They become closer and more reliant on each other as they face a truly formidable foe.

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GirlWhoLived
Sep 06, 2014

Mary Russell is a sassy, smart American teenager who has been recently orphaned and is living in Sussex with her aunt. One day, while wandering the downs with her nose stuck in a book, she trips over the great (retired) Sherlock Holmes as he studies bees. Thus begins a beautiful apprenticeship and friendship, punctuated with witty banter, perilous situations, and beloved characters. As Russell ages and begins her career at Oxford, their unique relationship and combined skills must rise to the challenge of a new, unknown danger, one which is targeting the detectives directly.

Shelleybean1 Aug 16, 2011

In this first novel of the series, Mary Russell, a teenaged orphan, meets Sherlock Holmes. A unique partnership follows where Holmes tutors Russell in the art of detection. While she initially only aids in his investigations, she becomes a full partner by the end. This is a superb read and a fantastic series. Laurie King does an excellent job with the time period and creates some of the best characters I've yet read.

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MADKC4Ever
May 29, 2014

This self-contained individual, this man who had rarely allowed even his sturdy, ex-Ary companion Watson to confront real risk, who had habitually over the past four years held back, been cautious, kept an eye out, and otherwise protected me; this man who was a Victorian gentleman down to his boots; this man was now proposing to place not only his life and limb into my untested, inexperienced, and above all female hands, but my own life as well.

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