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The Beekeeperís Apprentice
Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series #1

by Laurie R King

      Precocious orphan Mary Russell stumbles over the figure of a strange man while walking on the Sussex Downs. He is none other than Sherlock Holmes, who has retired to the country to keep bees and study their arcane habits. Both are lonely - though neither would admit it - and both are abnormally intelligent, so perhaps it is not surprising that they become firm friends despite the age difference. Soon they are solving crimes together, and it looks as though a major criminal has targeted them for annihilation.

Iím used to books that go around the houses, but here is one that goes around the whole town and outlying villages as well. Told in Maryís own words, this is a well-written novel revolving around this unlikely friendship, and Maryís own problems due to the death of her parents and younger brother. In some ways this is the opposite of Conan Doyleís work. His tales were succinct, punchy and frequently bizarre, whereas this one is rambling and the case ultimately rather commonplace and easily guessed. But the manís own words regarding his creation were "do what you like with him" and Ms King has taken them to heart. There are many pastiches, but this is not one of them, as it is so very different. It is as much about Mary as about Holmes, and takes in various places they visit together, her University career at Oxford and the boastful, rather aggressive yet vulnerable character of a wayward and highly intelligent teenager. This is beautifully conveyed as she tells her tale. If you are hoping for a story more akin to the ones Conan Doyle wrote, then the game is not afoot here, But if you want something different, then try this for size.

Reviews of other titles in this series

The Beekeepers Apprentice #1
Island of the Mad #11
Garment of Shadows #12
Dreaming Spies #13

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press (UK edition)
September 2006 (UK edition)
Crime - 1915 Sussex, UK and other locations
More at US || UK
NOTE: Different US/UK editions

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2006
© 2006