Tuesday, March 14, 2017


“[Holmes] had let go all doubt, and was telling me in crystal-clear terms that he was prepared to treat me as his complete, full, and unequivocal equal, if that was what I wished.”

Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice adds strong women to the Sherlock Homes saga.

In 1915, fifteen-year-old Mary Russell runs into the retired Sherlock Holmes keeping his bees on Sussex Downs.

Russell lives with her obnoxious aunt. She still grieves the heartbreaking death of both her parents.

Impressed by Russell’s brilliance, Holmes teaches her his methods of detection. They solve an espionage case, the burglary of a local pub, and the terrifying kidnapping of an American child.

Then someone tries to kill them both with bombs. The bombs are constructed in a way used by a former Sherlock Holmes antagonist. 

Holmes’ and Russell’s lives are so at risk that, for a while, they run away to Palestine and Jerusalem where Russell gets in touch with her Jewish heritage.

Along the way, King brings in all the familiar characters--Mycroft Holmes, Watson, Inspector Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and others.

Fairly early in the book, Holmes tells Russell, “You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool as well were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing.”

At a later point, Holmes admits it is hard for him to believe a woman can be as smart as he is.

So Holmes and Russell grow closer. They come to trust each other in an affectionate way. By the end of the story, their relationship helps to save both their lives.
Last year, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice celebrated the twentieth anniversary of its publication. 

I skipped the congratulatory stuff at the first of the book and went right to the story. And the story quickly took me in.  

I hope to read more of the books in this well-known series.

I checked out the Kindle edition of The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice from our local library.


Nan said...

I really liked this series for a while, but then there were a few that I didn't care for. If I remember correctly, the early ones always had a kind of foreword with the conceit of a trunk being found with Mary's letters. I don't know if the later ones have this. I found that early on I seemed to accept the age difference, but it became less probable, even kind of weird as I read on.

Joe Barone said...

Nan, This was my first of these books. I don't know where I've been all these years. I liked this one.

Yvette said...

THE BEEKEEPER'S APPRENTICE is one of my very favorite books of all time, Joe. But then I'm a Holmes fanatic from way back. I also loved O JERUSALEM, A MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN, THE MOOR, JUSTICE HALL and THE GAME - all titles in the series. Yes, not every book is great, but those that are are so brilliantly done. Well worth reading.

Joe Barone said...

Yvette, This is a really helpful comment. I have written these books down and will look for them especially.

Mathew Paust said...

I remember when the movie came out, Joe. I remember I wasn't interested in seeing it. But I didn't know it was a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Now I want to read the book and rent the video!

Joe Barone said...

Matthew, I haven't seen the movie, but I thought the book was very good.