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The Beekeeper's Apprentice [Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1 1996
In 1915, long since retired from his observations of criminal humanity, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. Never did he think to meet an intellect to match his own–until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a very modern fifteen-year-old whose mental acuity is equaled only by her audacity, tenacity, and penchant for trousers and cloth caps.

Under Holmes’s tutelage, Russell hones her talent for deduction, disguises, and danger: in the chilling case of a landowner’s mysterious fever and in a kidnapping in the wilds of Wales. But her ultimate challenge is yet to come. Soon the two sleuths are on the trail of a murderer whose machinations scatter meaningless clues…but whose objective is quite unequivocal: to end Russell and Holmes’s partnership–and their lives.

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From Publishers Weekly

Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice in this delightful and well-wrought addition to the master detective's casework. In the early years of WW I, 15-year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford. The collaboration is ignited by the kidnapping in Wales of Jessica Simpson, daughter of an American senator. The sleuthing duo find signs of the hand of a master criminal, and after Russell rescues the child, attempts are made on their lives (and on Watson's), with evidence piling up that the master criminal is out to get Holmes and all he holds dear. King ( A Grave Talent ) has created a fitting partner for the Great Detective: a quirky, intelligent woman who can hold her own with a man renowned for his contempt for other people's thought processes.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-At 15, Mary Russell is tall and gangling, bespectacled and bookish. In 1915, the orphaned heiress is living in her ancestral home with an embittered aunt she has plucked from genteel poverty to act as a guardian until she reaches her majority. In order to escape the woman's generally malevolent disposition, she wanders the Downs. On one such outing, she trips over a gaunt, elderly man sitting on the ground, "watching bees." This gentleman turns out to be Sherlock Holmes, and the resulting acquaintance evolves into a mentoring experience for the young woman. The story is well written in a style slightly reminiscent of Conan Doyle's, but is also very much King's own. The plot is somewhat predictable, but the characterizations are excellent and the times and places are skillfully evoked. Readers come to understand much of Holmes that was unexplained by Dr. Watson. These additions are entirely plausible, and the relationship between the great detective and his apprentice is delightful. Readers see much of Sussex, London, and even of student life at Oxford and the conditions of Romanies (Gypsies) in Wales. Wartime Britain is accurately evoked, and the whole is a lot of fun to read. While a fitting addition to the Holmes oeuvre, the narrative is delightfully feminist. It is likely to please YAs already entranced by Sherlock Holmes and will surely attract a few new fans.
Susan H. Woodcock, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beekeeper's Apprentice March 20 2008
I was grabbed from the first line of the introduction. King writes the way she speaks, I imagine, and I could hear a cool, authoritative, strong-willed voice through the whole, wonderful book. The plot was engaging and clever, and her mastery of Holmes's character was complete. I wasn't two pages into the thing before I ordered all the other titles Amazon had on offer. Now I have to wait until she joins Russell and Holmes again: cue heavy sigh. As an academic who generally limits her reading to works on cultural history, I found this a light, funny, delicately romantic read and I take delight in recommending it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE RESURRECTION OF SHERLOCK HOLMES... Jan. 3 2011
By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER
I very much enjoyed this book. It successfully resurrects Sherlock Holmes, as the author is able to keep his voice true throughout the book. Moreover, the author uses an ingenious and clever concept in order to bring him back to his legion of fans. The idea of Holmes as mentor to a brilliant young woman is certainly one that takes getting used to. Yet, the author seamlessly weaves his transition from retired recluse to mentor without a hitch.

That brilliant young woman is Mary Russell, a wealthy orphan who, at the age of fifteen, captures the imagination of Sherlock Holmes, who sees in her a kindred spirit. Under his careful tutelage, this young woman, with a mental acuity that rivals his own, over the span of several years becomes as sage a detective as Holmes. Together they have a series of adventures that involve the fine art of deduction and detection.

As their escapades escalate in complexity, they discover themselves pitted against a mind as keen as each of theirs. Their unknown adversary seems hell bent on the dissolution of their partnership and their deaths by whatever means necessary.

This is a highly entertaining work of fiction that fans of Sherlock Holmes should enjoy. Old friends, such as Dr. Watson, Myron Holmes, and Mrs. Hudson, are all part of the fabric of this book. Well-written, the characters are engaging, though the book could have used a bit more editing to make the storyline even tighter. Notwithstanding this one criticism, this is a book that will keep the reader turning the pages.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Beekeeper's Apprentice Aug. 15 2009
By Pauline
The year is 1915 and Sherlock Holmes is retired, but a young lady of fifteen years falls into his life and she becomes his protégé. Mary Russell is orphaned and lives with an aunt who is only interested in Mary's inheritance and does not offer Mary any loving guidance. Sherlock Holmes takes the job of teaching Mary all the skills he has learned in his detective work. Mary Russell exhibits an impressive intelligence and is able to absorb what Sherlock teaches her.

As she attends school at Oxford Mary spends her holidays with Holmes and they become involved in detective work together. Mary rescues a young girl from kidnappers and is able to help the young girl deal emotionally with her lose of innocence. Mary is able to relate to the girl's emotional turmoil through her own experience of losing her parents and brother in a car accident.

In the crimes that Holmes and Mary solve there is a common menace. A criminal master mind has been stalking Holmes and the ones he loves and all of their lives are at risk. Mary and Sherlock Holmes have to combine their great minds to figure out who this criminal mastermind is.

"The Beekeeper's Apprentice" by Laurie R. King is the first book in a series a books with Mary Russell being a detective. In this first book she learns the basics of detective work along the side of the great Sherlock Holmes himself.

There are a few things I found hard to deal with in this book. The first thing was the treatment of Dr Watson, he is treated like a baboon and there is a general feeling that Holmes wants nothing to do with Watson now that he has Mary to work with. I think it would have made more sense if Watson was embraced and still loved, rather then shunned and ridiculed. He plays a very small role so why debase him?
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Game's Afoot Jan. 30 2004
After the death of her family, Mary Russell, a fifteen year-old, moves to a farm with her "evil" aunt. In one of her walks around the area she meets the famous Sherlock Holmes, who is retired and dedicates his hours to the study of bees. Right from the start the two main characters in the book match their wits and Holmes is surprised by the potential he sees in this young woman. He then decides to tutor her and introduce her to the art of investigative work. In the next few years, they go through a few cases and Mary goes away to Oxford to continue her studies; but at one point they are faced with a more dangerous opponent, who wants to kill not only Holmes, but also Mary; even Dr. Watson and Mycroft are in danger. If you want to know the rest, you better read the book!
In my opinion the author does a very good job in maintaining the particular characteristics that define the characters in Arthur Conan Doyle's books, especially in the case of Sherlock Holmes. It is amazing how you feel that the deductive work is done by exactly the same detective you knew from the past, and with the added benefit of a fresh mind assisting him!
I was very pleased to see the ingenious way in which Laurie King connected this new series with the Conan Doyle's work. She concocted a story about her receiving the manuscripts of the different stories in the series some time ago, and that she is merely the editor. The manuscripts were of course written by the enchanting Mary Russell.
Finally, let me tell you that, since I am an avid chess player, I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which Holmes uses a chess game with Mary to explain the strategy he was planning to utilize in one of their cases.
I will definitely continue reading the books in this series, and if you haven't started yet, I recommend you do it now!
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars ... a Sherlock Holmes fan and this book was very good at imitating the...
I'm not really a Sherlock Holmes fan and this book was very good at imitating the Conan Doyle style. So I found the tale ponderous and not particularly interesting.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful transition to keep Holme's current and viable today
A really wonderful book to have read. The way in which King enters the life of the retired and aged Holmes so naturally and is able to continue in his lifestyle is a wonderful... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Wayne Krawchuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars all the way
Thrilled with my copy - a treasure for my book shelves.
As described, no problems, no worries, I'll be back.
Published 14 months ago by P. S. Bates
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable mystery
It may very well be blasphemy to some, but I've never read a Sherlock Holmes book before. Of course, I'm familiar with various incarnations of the character due to his appearance... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beekeeper Apprentice
This story was a wonderful escape. The reader was transported to a different time and into an intriguing story. Life at that time was explained in wonderful detail
Published on March 26 2012 by Barb
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! Can't wait to read the rest of the series!
This is a very wonderful story. I will be brief, but if you like the concept, you'll love the story, guaranteed. Read more
Published on April 29 2011 by Rachael
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper
I was introduced to this book by my sister, who got it from a friend. I finnished the book, and promptly started to look for the next book, The Monstrous Regiment of Women. Read more
Published on July 13 2004 by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars "Its a Good Read!"
I am ashamed to admit that I bought this book several years ago and only recently picked it up to read. What a waste of years! This is a delightful read. Read more
Published on April 1 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The Game's Afoot...
Where do I begin with this book? I am a fantasy lover, pure and simple, and have been since I was 12. Read more
Published on April 1 2004 by "sonnetinkinston"
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Of This Genre
This is simply my favorite Sherlock Holmes-ish book (and among my favorite among all books). I recommend it without reservation.
Published on March 11 2004 by Peter L. Swinford
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