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.
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!
Yes! The book is well written and a great narrator.
:Lock Doors" with the same Mary Russel
She has a great voice and sharp British articulation. Jenny can change voices for different people.
No cry or Laugh but just great story line starting from the beginning when Mary bet Holmes
I live, breathe, read.
I was living my carefree, ignorant life until I decided to visit my best friend last November in Kansas. What do best friends do when they get together? We hunker down with slouchy pants, greasy processed foods, and keep that Netflix streaming, sugar!
I introduced her to Flowers in the Attic and other awful films, and on one cold Wednesday, she started me on Sherlock. Sometimes I don’t know whether I was better off before, when I didn’t have to wait for the next year to roll around for a new season. What kind of life is that? So for all of you who can relate, what do we do with all that time in between? We read Sherlock stories, of course!
I’m sad to say that I’ve never actually read any of Doyle’s original stories. I own them, but I just have no idea what to expect; I guess I am just a bit cautious, as with all classics. I wonder if the language will be too dense and over my head. When I heard about The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I wasn’t sure what to expect, either. After all, Holmes coming out of retirement accompanied by a young, female apprentice, seemed a bit farfetched. But boy was I wrong.
I know the three star rating makes this review suspect, but I really, really enjoyed the historical elements of this book. Set in 1915, and a little beyond that, I found the references to Post WWI England enlightening and so cozy! Holmes is very much his INTJ self, and I couldn’t help but picture Benedict Cumberbatch in his mid 50s, though still as boyish as ever. I especially like Mary Russell’s character, and the intelligent duo they made. All the other characters are still present, too: dear, dear Watson and Mrs. Hudson.
While the mystery component of the book didn’t always hold my attention, I did still find this book worth the read. It put me in mind of The 39 Steps, The Tale of Hill Top Farm and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I am looking forward to continuing the series.
A feminist reboot of Sherlock Holmes with a young female partner who demands — and deserves — to be treated as the detective’s equal. I love the premise and look forward to the second in the series, which is supposed to ramp up the feminism angle, but this one was just OK. It was too much like a superhero story where our heroes face their most formidable foe yet, but I never really felt they were in danger and I didn’t care about the villain. It was just a bunch of running around in disguise and getting stumped by clues intentionally left by the villain to see how smart they are. We know they’re smart so wouldn’t it be better not to leave clues? Bechdel test: pass. Grade: B.
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.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
At the price of $4.95 I thought I would try this book. It's actually quite good. Sherlock Holmes now retired to the countryside. He can't give up on crime solving so takes on a new assistant, Mary, a young woman. Dr. Watson is living in London. The story is told from her viewpoint. The stories themselves are not that exciting, but the female narration is quite excellent. The book would appeal to women and teens who have never experienced Sherlock Holmes before. For the price you can't go wrong with this one. I see that it is a series, but I am not sure I would go must past first book. However, other listeners may get hooked and may want to continue on.
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