Title: The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Author: Laurie King
Publication Date: January 1994
Length: 384 pages
Series: Mary Russel & Sherlock Holmes
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Friend Recommendation
In 1915, Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honeybees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes--and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protégée and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. In their first case together, they must track down a kidnapped American senator's daughter and confront a truly cunning adversary--a bomber who has set trip wires for the sleuths and who will stop at nothing to end their partnership.
I think the book blurb did a good job summarizing the story, so let's get down to the review.
I picked up The Beekeeper's Apprentice after realizing I had not read a book for fun in ages. My friend had read the entire series, and she really enjoyed them. I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and a mystery seemed like the perfect fit for getting me back into reading for fun. I am happy to say that the book did hold my attention, but, sadly, the book didn't keep me interested in reading for fun. I didn't get back into reading for fun for at least two more years.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice (and the rest of the series from what I have heard) was a fun mystery novel. Although it was weird that Holmes was hanging out with a teenage girl, I went with it. The kidnapping and mystery was intriguing enough, and there was a bit of action too. The pacing was fairly quick, and I finished the book in just a few days. The book was definitely a page turner. At the same time, however, the story felt a bit flat to me. I did manage to finish the book, but I wasn't able to finish the second book. I remember putting the book down and thinking "I am sure that the characters will figure everything out. I don't need to finish the book; the characters will solve the crime without me." This thought process showcases two things: (1) my reading slump was super bad and (2) the mysteries may be interesting but the reader buy in isn't necessarily there. I needed King to get me a little more invested in the story.
As many of you know, I am not a fan of people capitalizing on other people's characters. I read The Beekeeper's Apprentice before I came to this realization. To be honest, this book was part of the reason that I shy away from books with other author's characters/settings. Laurie King's Holmes was fine; however, her Holmes is not Doyle's Holmes. Holmes in this book never felt exactly right to me. Of course, King was not trying to write a Holmes story in the Doyle style. King was creating her own Holmes, so I can't be upset that this isn't Doyle's Holmes. To be honest, I can't see the original Holmes wanting to hang out with Mary Russell. King's Holmes is a Holmes for a modern day audience. With all of that said, I would have loved to solve crimes with King's Holmes. Even if I am picky about author's using other author's characters, I love fantasizing about going on adventures with Holmes.
Overall, this book is a great read, if you buy into King's version of Sherlock Holmes. If you have always imagined hanging out with Holmes and solving crimes, you should definitely check out the Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series. If you have a hard time watching certain television versions of Sherlock Holmes, because your Holmes is Doyle's Holmes, this is probably not the series for you.
I give this book a 3 out of 5.