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The Beekeeper's Apprentice [Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 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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First Sentence
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
Format:Paperback
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beekeeper Apprentice March 26 2012
By Barb
Format:Paperback
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
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars all the way Sept. 24 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Thrilled with my copy - a treasure for my book shelves.
As described, no problems, no worries, I'll be back.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable mystery July 9 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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 in popular culture, but I've never experience Doyle's work. With this perspective in mind, I must say that I quite enjoyed this book and the story it presented. Mary Russell is a fantastic and interesting character, with a mind that races as fast as Holmes' does. The dynamic setup between the two is captivating from their first meeting, and while I found the story does slow down a bit about half way through, it kicks into high gear shortly after and doesn't let go. I'm glad to hear that there are more books in the series, since I'm very interested in catching up with these characters again.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Worst Writer to Write Holmes April 11 2003
Format:Paperback
I spent more than a month (maybe two, I don't remember now) reading this novel, and to me that means it was dead boring.
King introduces Mary Russell, a young Jewish (claims to be secular) girl who used to reside in the US before her family had a devastating car accident, and now she is under the custody of her scrooge female relative, who is obviously stealing her money and depriving her of food.
Holmes, a nice hearted man!, feeds her, and upon finding out that she was good in deduction, he decides to be her mentor. She is not your usual sweet Englishwoman, however, for she scolds him most of the time, and Holmes appears not to be offended by this treatment!
Religion is incorporated in this novel extensively, and this is really a draw back. Religion introduced in a Sherlock Holmes's Novel would not strike me as the best idea.
There are some small mysteries scatterd throughout the story, but they are utterly simple, even old Watson could have solved them without sweating. And always Moriarty was mentioned. At the end some letter was solved using some mathematics on base 8 (2 thumps up) and it turned out to be the hardest thing in the story, which resulted in a not so interesting conclusion.
I do not recommend it for any fan of Sherlock Holmes. But if you are more into romance, you might as well like 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
Format:Paperback
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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By Rachael
Format:Paperback
This is a very wonderful story. I will be brief, but if you like the concept, you'll love the story, guaranteed. It's positively enchanting - and does the original story proud and brings a wonderful new twist. Highly recommended!
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Beekeeper's Apprentice Aug. 15 2009
By Pauline
Format:Paperback
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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