The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King: Book Review

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Cover of The Beekeeper's Apprentice

4 Stars

“I should have thought it obvious,” I said impatiently, though even at that age I was aware that such things were not obvious to the majority of people. “I see paint on your pocket-handkerchief, and traces on your fingers where you wiped it away. The only reason to mark bees that I can think of is to enable one to follow them to their hive. You are either interested in gathering honey or in the bees themselves, and it is not the time of year to harvest honey. Three months ago we had an unusual cold spell that killed many hives. Therefore I assume that you are tracking these in order to replenish your own stock.”

Retired, fifty-four-year-old Sherlock Holmes is left speechless at this speech from fifteen-year-old Mary Russell. He realizes immediately that he has finally met a mind to match his own, and his retirement might not be quite as boring as he expected.

I haven’t read any of Conan Doyle’s work recently enough to be able to comment meaningfully on how well the Sherlock in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice matches up to the “real” Sherlock. All I can say is that I enjoyed the originals and I enjoyed this one.

Mary is a rare heroine. She’s ultra-intelligent, fiercely independent, funny, sharp-spoken, unafraid to get her hands dirty, and ultimately vulnerable.

Sherlock finds himself losing interest in everything around him until Mary comes into his life to both test his wits and learn from him. The pair, who, from the outside would appear to be aloof from everyone else, ultimately save each other.

There were several mysteries the two investigate throughout the book, from Mary’s first attempt to solve a small local crime on her own, to the infinitely-bigger plot that almost proves to be the team’s undoing. I think the mysteries were strong and would have done the original Sherlock proud, but, like I said, take that with a grain of salt coming from me.

What I mostly liked was the way the two worked together, and watching Mary grow and learn even as she taught Sherlock to rejoin the world. The dynamics between them are never easy but they are always interesting. Other characters obviously put in an appearance, and it was fun to check in on the affable Dr. Watson, but it was Mary and Sherlock’s characters and their interactions that made this book for me.

If you aren’t too much of a Sherlock purist, go ahead and pick this up. It was an interesting look at a couple of complicated minds and I truly enjoyed reading it. I’ll be continuing on with the series.

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