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The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King

January 27, 2018

It all starts when fifteen-year-old, gawky, recently-orphaned Mary Russell literally runs into fifty-four-year-old, retired Sherlock Holmes on Sussex Downs. Surprised and impressed by her intellect, Holmes reluctantly takes Russell on as his apprentice. Soon they are called to Wales to help Scotland Yard find the kidnapped daughter of an American senator. Once they return, Holmes and Russell find themselves on the run from a mysterious killer, and they uncover clues that lead deep into their pasts—and change them in ways they never imagined.

In The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King develops Russell as a smart and humorous protagonist, who made me think about each choice that she made, and what influenced those choices. I found that she complements Holmes, with his gruff sarcastic demeanor, which made them an interesting pair to follow. This improved my overall reading experience, because even when there was a lull in the plot, the engaging protagonists ensured that there was never a boring moment.

I enjoyed how King crafted a fast-paced, suspenseful plot that was full of excitement, while keeping it from becoming scary. For me, this was critical because I am sensitive to frightening books, and I often have trouble finding a good mystery, so this novel was perfect for me.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice was a well-written book, where there were never any loose ends. Each choice the characters made fit in with where the plot was at that time.

King is knowledgeable about London, Oxford, and Sherlock Holmes; she often goes into depth about Holmes’ “Baker Street Days,” then compares one of his past cases directly with the current mystery. There are also many references to real world objects and places, which I found that this made the book more plausible: I could prove everything in the setting, which left the protagonists as the only truly fictional element.

These characters were easy to relate to, despite their unusual lives, which made this book one of the best I’ve ever read. I hope you will choose to read this amazing novel. Follow Russell and Holmes in a breathtaking mystery through London and beyond, in King’s first book of the Mary Russell series.


St. Martin’s press, 356 pages

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