The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
by Laurie R. King
Mary Russell, a 15-year-old girl meets an aging beekeeper after she moves to a small English town with her aunt. She quickly discovers it’s a newly retired Sherlock Holmes. The two are an incredible intellectual match and Sherlock decides to take Mary under his wing as an apprentice detective. The friendship that grows between the two saves them both in a way.
“We made an odd pair, the gangling, bespectacled girl and a tall, sardonic recluse, blessed or cursed with minds of hard brilliance that alienated all but the most tenacious.”
Mary is an outstanding character. She is smart and fiercely independent. She can take Sherlock’s rough demeanor and give it back to him in the same way. We watch as she grows into a strong adult and develops an incredibly keen eye.
As for Sherlock’s world, it feels like King picks up right where Doyle left off. We get to see Watson, Mycroft and Mrs. Hudson again, such a treat for Sherlock fans. This novel is more character driven than Doyle’s work, but that made it all the more enjoyable for me.
"It was none other than the long-suffering Mrs. Hudson, whom I had long considered the most underrated figure in all of Dr. Watson's stories. Yet another example of the man's obtuseness, this inability to know a gem unless it be set in gaudy gold."
The mystery is well-plotted, but it’s more about the relationship that develops. Mary has a lot of guilt from her past and Sherlock has a hard time treating anyone like an equal. The two are good for each other. It moves slowly in parts, but it gives us a chance to see Mary develop and not just solve a single case.
BOTTOM LINE: Loved it. It’s the first in a series and I already found a copy of the second book. If you enjoy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Shakespeare books than this is a great one for you.
"That's what tears are for, you know, to wash away the fear and cool the hate."
“The discovery of a sign of true intellect outside ourselves procures us something of the emotion Robinson Crusoe felt when he saw the imprint of a human foot on the sandy beach of his island.”
I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.