The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

beekeeperThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice is Laurie R. King’s take on Sherlock Holmes towards the end of his career.  In this first book of a series, Holmes meet fifteen-year-old Mary Russell, an independent girl who is as clever and observant as he is.  As the title suggests, he begins tutoring her in the ways of detective work, and pretty soon they are teaming up together on cases.

I don’t normally read books that are someone else’s version of a fictional character.  I’m a purist.  I don’t want to read about Mr. Darcy outside of Pride and Prejudice, or Scarlett O’Hara outside of Gone with the Wind.  The copyright may be expired but it still seems like stealing.  And it’s not like these books come close to improving on the original.  (See this page on Goodreads if you’re wondering what I’m talking about.)

For the record, I think modern-day adaptations of classic stories are different, like Bridget Jones’ Diary (Pride and Prejudice) or The Flight of Gemma Hardy (Jane Eyre) or A Thousand Acres (King Lear).  I guess the difference is that those authors are modernizing and re-imagining the story, rather than just writing a sequel they aren’t entitled to.

So why this book?  For one thing, I love British period mysteries, and King’s books are often recommended.  And I’m no expert on Sherlock Holmes, but I do love the stories.  Sherlock Holmes has been done so many times by authors, movies, and television, he’s pretty safe ground.  Maybe it works well because you’re not changing the story or his character, just giving him more mysteries to solve.

Ultimately, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice seems to really honor the works of Doyle and the character of Holmes.  And the story was so well written, it really put me in the time and place.  I loved reading about how Mary learns to be a detective and the things she struggles with (for example, occasionally wanting a normal life at college, and dealing with the very real dangers of criminal work).  Sherlock Holmes plus a strong female character adds up to a great mystery novel.

The book is set in the years 1914-1919 and World War I is very much a backdrop.  We see how it affects Mary’s life and the lives of women in general.  For example, Mary speculates that she receives a much better college education because most of the men are out of the picture.

I don’t have much more to say except I really loved the story, the characters, and the way this book was written.  A surprising “thumbs way up” for this one.

  6 comments for “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

  1. October 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    Sounds like a good read!! Will have to look for it-thanks!

  2. October 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I liked this one a lot, too, and have read all the other Mary Russell that come after! It’s hard to say why I like them so much, because I usually don’t read a lot of historical fiction or mystery fiction! I think it has to be the character of Mary Russell and the way her relationship with the much older Holmes develops over time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Readers' High Tea

Based in Romania, reading all over the world. Mostly fiction, some memoires and a little bit of poetry.

Bookish Brews

A book blog and a celebration of diverse books and authors (with a side of your favorite brew)

C.A. Hughes Book Reviews

The literary journeys of a 20-something, bilingual, elementary school teacher.

Rabeeah Reads

a book blog

There's always room for one more...

Lost in Storyland

I read, breathe, and live in bookish worlds.


Book Reviews


"Books are a uniquely portable magic" - Stephen King

%d bloggers like this: