From New York Times best-selling author Laurie R. King comes the book that introduced us to the ingenious Mary Russell - Sherlock Holmes mysteries.
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 20th-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.
Full of brilliant deductions, disguises, and dangers, this first book of the Mary Russell - Sherlock Holmes mysteries is "wonderfully original and entertaining...absorbing from beginning to end." (Booklist). Named "One of the Century's Best 100 Mysteries" by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.
©1994 Laurie R. King (P)2007 Recorded Books
This is Laurie King’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes in his later life as a secondary character to his apprentice, Mary Russell. I was pleasantly surprised and I believe I am addicted to the Mary Russell series. I downloaded the second book of the series within moments of finishing this book.
I had misgivings about reading this. I love Doyle’s Sherlock and I was worried that King’s interpretation would make me unhappy. So, with trepidation and after recommendations from both my parents and my niece, I picked it up. My niece and I enjoy discussing some YA fiction and as a result I was expecting something on that level. I had made a terrible assumption based on this and forgot that she is an extremely precocious 13 year-old who loves and chooses to read Shakespeare…repeatedly. She sometimes speaks in old english and I have to ask for translations. This is not YA fiction. This is a PG adult mystery, and it is wonderful.
Laurie King did a very intelligent thing. She stated, as Mary Russell our first person point of view, that her interpretation of Holmes was likely to offend or upset a reader who is looking for Watson’s interpretation. Her view of Holmes is quite different, it is the view of an equal, and Watson never viewed himself as Holmes equal. This allowed me, as the reader, to let that go. Bravo Laurie King!
This is the story of how a young woman, recently orphaned and forced to live with a detestable distant Aunt, becomes the Apprentice of the great Sherlock Holmes. The book develops their friendship through her training. Holmes is still endearingly odd, but he is not seen from a pedestal. This is a coming of age story through several mysteries brought to Holmes and Russell while she is going to school at Oxford. Russell grows from the age of 16 to 18 during the span of the novel and Holmes is in his 50′s. Their relationship is not romantic.
The writing is beautiful and spoiled me. I picked up a distinctly YA paranormal romance after this and abandoned it promptly because I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t be fair. My expectations had been raised. King did a fabulous job of staying true to her characters voice, time frame, and local. In comparison, I kept seeing where this other author threw in a few words to try to make it authentic to the local and then would forget and dispense with them. It nearly drove me to madness and I had to remember this was a new author. I will try to read it again later.
Jenny Sterlin's narration is wonderful. Her voice perfectly matches the material. Her accents were wonderful and her character differentiation was superb. My preference will be to listen rather than read this series. I don’t think my internal voice could do it justice after listening to her interpretation.
As for ‘The Beekeepers Apprentice’, it was a wonderful period piece during and right after World War I. It allows the reader to enjoy Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Hudson, and Watson with a fabulous addition of Mary Russell.
I don't tend to re-listen (re-read) books because I want to read something new. That said, I couldn't put this one down. I tend to listen while walking the dog or on longer drives; this book made me want to extend the walk or plan a long car trip, just to be able to keep listening!
My favorite character was Mary Russell, of course, although I thoroughly enjoyed Laurie King's version of Sherlock Holmes. Mary (or I should say Russell) was written as an independent girl/woman, which I will attribute somewhat to her US upbringing. I liked the way she played off of Holmes. Their camaraderie was very nicely portrayed, as well as the influence Holmes has on her development.
I don't know if I can pick one favorite scene. The description of their first meeting sticks vividly in my mind - I can almost see the hill, and the bees with their spots of color, and Mary carefully taking it all in, figuring out what is happening, and then surprising Holmes with her understanding.
The narration/performance was marvelous. I left wanting more - and was delighted to find that here is more!
I have read this book more times then I care to count. As an audiobook, this is one of the best I've ever heard. It also serves as a great example of how to correctly narrate an audiobook.
One of my favorites scenes takes place as they race along roads to solve a crime:
"Russell, if you decide to take up Grand Prix racing, do ask Watson to do your navigating. This is just his métier."
"Why, Holmes, do you have doubts about my driving?"
"No, Russell, I freely admit that when it comes to your driving abilities, I have no doubts whatsoever. The doubts I have are concerned with the other end of our journey. The question of our arrival, for one thing."
"And what we shall find when we get there?"
"That too, but it is perhaps not of such immediate concern. Russell, did you see that tree back there?"
"Yes, a fine old oak, wasn't it?"
"I hope it still is," he muttered.
Now imagine that in a "high, biting voice" for Holmes and an almost sarcastic, blasé, lower female voice for Russell and you have an inkling of how funny this section is.
If you love mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, and historical settings; I'd give this series a try. Jenny Sterlin gives the perfect voice to so many of these characters. She captures Holmes' voice just as the author describes it and is also able to fill in the right accents and more. No matter how many times I've read or listened to this, I can't wait to turn the next page or listen to the next minute - even though I know exactly what's going to happen.
YUCK! The narrator's dry mouth and associated smacking sounds were very distracting. If the book had been less entertaining, I would have returned it because of the narrator.
I loved the premise and character development but couldn't help at times feeling the author 'dumbed down' Sherlock to make Russell shine. But even so it kept my attention and interest. I didn't care for the narrator for this book, a bit to mature-sounding. She portrayed Sherlock with a nasal high-pitched tone that didn't appeal at all. And there were constant little clicks, could have been a poor recording, but to me sounded like the narrator had a case of dry mouth. Really distracting. Seems like the clicks could be edited out..,
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The book itself is interesting, well written, and it kept my attention. The only downside was the narrator. She was constantly making dry mouth noises which was distracting. I could also hear background noises of other people talking.
a more REAL character.
She talks about learning but all we hear is how good she already is and all the BLAH BLAH BLAH all about me me me and how good I am blah blah blah....
very very dry (but she didn't have much to work with)
Hate to be all negative so I will end on this positive note, I am glad I got it on sale.
Would definitely listen to The Beekeeper's Apprentice or On the Segregation of the Queen again. Very interesting concept - more in line with modern ideas that women actually have brains. Holmes' is more human in this story.
The most memorable moment came at the beginning of the story when Sherlock Holmes meets the young girl who becomes his apprentice. It sets the tone for the whole story.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
I'm not ordinarily a big Sherlock Holmes fan, I'm not addicted to the movies . . . but something about this book attracted me from the beginning . . . excellent writing, great sleuthing, and the relationship that develops between the "retired" Holmes and Mary is amazing . . . not sappy, not fake, not at all what you would expect. That's what makes this series so spectacular . . . what a team they make!
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