The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

On the Segregation of the Queen

Book - 1994
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What would happen if Sherlock Homles, a perfect man of the Victorian age--pompous, smug, and misogynisitic--were to come face to face with a twentieth-century female? If she grew to be a partner worthy of his great talents?

Laurie R. King, whose very different first novel,. A Grave Talen t (SMP, 1993), drew rave reviews, read the Conan Doyle stories and wondered about such an imaginary encounter. And following through, she has written The Beekeeper's Apprentice.

1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. And although he may have all the Victorian "flaws" listed above, the Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman.

So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary Russell as his apprentice. They work on a few small local cases, then on a larger and more urgent investigation, which ends successfully. All the time, Mary is developing as a detective in her own right, with the benefit of the knowledge and experience of her mentor and, increasingly, friend.

And then the sky opens on them, and they find themselves the targets of a slippery, murderous, and apparently all-knowing adversary. Together they devise a plan to trap their enemy--a plan that may save their lives but may also kill off their relationship.

This is not a "Sherlock Holmes" story. It is the story of a modern young woman who comes to know and work with Holmes, the story of young woman coming to terms with herself and with this older man who embodies the age that is past.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 1994.
ISBN: 9780312104238
Branch Call Number: M/KING
Characteristics: 347p. 22cm.


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Oct 01, 2018

Having read most of the books in this series, but not in order, I've decided to go back to the beginning. It's a treat. Even within this book, it's fun to watch the development in the relationship between the retired detective and the intellectual teenager. She begins by solving a puzzle involving painted dots on bees. By the end of the book, Holmes has taken Mary Russell on as his student and is teaching her the art of detection. Their first case seems simple and straightforward. By the end of the book they find themselves in enough of a pickle that leaving England for a while seems wise. As with their previous case, they go in disguise, something Holmes is very good at, and mentors Russell in that as well. A very satisfying beginning to the series. I confess I've never read the original Sherlock Holmes. Sometime I really should! I've read several other authors' attempts to carry on with the life of Holmes, and none seem as real as this one.

Jun 23, 2018

Worth rereading! As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I hesitated to go into this, but I think it stays relatively true to the spirit of the character.

Apr 06, 2018

Enjoyed the combination of short story mysteries within the framework of a developing relationship between an older, more mature, Sherlock Holmes with a young woman finding herself and her voice during the World War I years.

Mar 30, 2018

A very enjoyable book-will look for the prequel! Obviously I know about Sherlock and Watson but had never read one of the books. I like the way mysteries are unraveled and appreciate the due that Holmes gives to a female apprentice (most likely not real in the time period but appreciated nonetheless!) Kudos to the author!!!

Mar 25, 2018

Delightful! And fun to read Sherlock's improved "tolerance" for a woman (other than Irene Adler, of course). Great twists and turns in the story. Can't wait for the next one in the series!

Aug 12, 2017

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

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.

ArapahoeLesley 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.

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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May 29, 2014

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jul 07, 2013

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Jul 15, 2012

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Jan 09, 2011

Tanith thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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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.

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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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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