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The Beekeeper's Apprentice: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes    by Laurie R. King order for
Beekeeper's Apprentice
by Laurie R. King
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2007 (1994)
Hardcover, Softcover

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes are, by Mary's own admission an odd pair: 'a gangling, bespectacled girl and a tall, sardonic recluse, blessed or cursed with minds of hard brilliance that alienated all but the most tenacious.' This unlikely pair, although odd, is one of the most refreshing duos to have appeared in mystery-detective fiction since - well, since Arthur Conan Doyle introduced readers to Holmes and Watson. Now, reissued by Picador fourteen years after first appearing in print, The Beekeeper's Apprentice is again available for readers who want to read the very best in mystery-detective fiction.

When the precocious fifteen-year old Mary first meets the fifty-four-year old beekeeper (and retired detective) Holmes in 1915 at Sussex Downs, their singular friendship begins immediately, and Holmes over the period of several years becomes Mary's 'foremost friend, tutor, substitute father, and eventually confidant.' Together, these extraordinary sleuths embark on a series of investigations (when Mary is not otherwise occupied with her education, eventually studying chemistry and theology at Oxford in 1917).

To begin with, Mary and Holmes look into a woman's concerns about her secretive husband who may or may not be involved in espionage. Then the detective duo sort out the details of a relatively straightforward robbery at a roadside inn, and later - more significantly - they are called upon to assist in solving the case of a kidnapped six-year old girl who disappeared during the family's vacation in Wales.

Eventually, though, the bespectacled girl and the sardonic recluse will find themselves head-over-heels involved in their most dangerous case - one involving a most careful and patient bomber who is apparently intent upon killing Holmes, his young protégé, the detective's chronicler, Dr. John Watson, and perhaps even Mrs. Hudson, the detective's long-suffering housekeeper.

When The Beekeeper's Apprentice ends, delighted readers (including dedicated Baker Street fans and newly won-over fans of Mary Russell) will have experienced Laurie R King's remarkably perfect recreation of a late middle-aged Holmes and his early 20th century world; the narrative style, diction, idiosyncratic characterizations, and atmospheric settings all combine in an elegant literary blend suggestive of the very best of King's influential antecedents - E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and - of course - A. C. Doyle.

Readers also will understand why The Beekeeper's Apprentice is included in the IMBA's prestigious list: the 20th Century's Best 100 Mysteries, and why this reviewer includes King's exquisite novel in his own list - The Top 10 Mystery-Detective Novels of the Last 25 Years.

So, what are you waiting for? Get a copy of The Beekeeper's Apprentice and enjoy!

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