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The Beekeeper's Apprentice Paperback – July 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553571656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553571653
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,032,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

More About the Author

New York Times bestselling crime writer Laurie R. King writes both series and standalone novels.

In the Mary Russell series (first entry: The Beekeeper's Apprentice), fifteen-year-old Russell meets Sherlock Holmes on the Sussex Downs in 1915, becoming his apprentice, then his partner. The series follows their amiably contentious partnership into the 1920s as they challenge each other to ever greater feats of detection.

The Kate Martinelli series, starting with A Grave Talent, concerns a San Francisco homicide inspector, her SFPD partner, and her life partner. In the course of the series, Kate encounters a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, a manifestation of the goddess Kali and an eighty-year-old manuscript concerning'Sherlock Holmes.

King also has written stand-alone novels--the historical thriller Touchstone, A Darker Place, two loosely linked novels'Folly and Keeping Watch--and a science fiction novel, Califia's Daughters, under the pseudonym Leigh Richards.

King grew up reading her way through libraries like a termite through balsa before going on to become a mother, builder, world traveler, and theologian.

She has now settled into a genteel life of crime, back in her native northern California. She has a secondary residence in cyberspace, where she enjoys meeting readers in her Virtual Book Club and on her blog.

King has won the Edgar and Creasey awards (for A Grave Talent), the Nero (for A Monstrous Regiment of Women) and the MacCavity (for Folly); her nominations include the Agatha, the Orange, the Barry, and two more Edgars. She was also given an honorary doctorate from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Check out King's website, http://laurierking.com/, and follow the links to her blog and Virtual Book Club, featuring monthly discussions of her work, with regular visits from the author herself. And for regular LRK updates, follow the link to sign up for her email newsletter.

Customer Reviews

The plot is well written and characters are well developed.
Joanne Giesbrecht
Laurie R. King has indeed written a very clever and entirely original tribute to Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.
Dee18
I was excited to read the series before I finished the first book.
Lisa C. Hake

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Fernandez VINE VOICE on January 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
After the death of her family, Mary Russell, a fifteen year-old, moves to a farm with her "evil" aunt. In one of her walks around the area she meets the famous Sherlock Holmes, who is retired and dedicates his hours to the study of bees. Right from the start the two main characters in the book match their wits and Holmes is surprised by the potential he sees in this young woman. He then decides to tutor her and introduce her to the art of investigative work. In the next few years, they go through a few cases and Mary goes away to Oxford to continue her studies; but at one point they are faced with a more dangerous opponent, who wants to kill not only Holmes, but also Mary; even Dr. Watson and Mycroft are in danger. If you want to know the rest, you better read the book!
In my opinion the author does a very good job in maintaining the particular characteristics that define the characters in Arthur Conan Doyle's books, especially in the case of Sherlock Holmes. It is amazing how you feel that the deductive work is done by exactly the same detective you knew from the past, and with the added benefit of a fresh mind assisting him!
I was very pleased to see the ingenious way in which Laurie King connected this new series with the Conan Doyle's work. She concocted a story about her receiving the manuscripts of the different stories in the series some time ago, and that she is merely the editor. The manuscripts were of course written by the enchanting Mary Russell.
Finally, let me tell you that, since I am an avid chess player, I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which Holmes uses a chess game with Mary to explain the strategy he was planning to utilize in one of their cases.
I will definitely continue reading the books in this series, and if you haven't started yet, I recommend you do it now!
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Chelle on October 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
At least once or twice every year I find myself in a Holmes state of mind. Basil Rathbone makes numerous appearances on my screen at this time and books--by Conan Doyle as well as others--are strewn across the couch. And even though this has been going on for years, my first experience with Mary Russell and Laurie King's Holmes came only two days ago. A new name has indeed been added to my yearly Holmes phase.
Laurie King's Holmes is subtle. And it is because of that that he is entirely believable, and what's more, remarkably likeable. As another reviewer noted, under King's hand and through Mary Russell's eyes the aging detective is human, almost fallible. Little gestures, small displays of emotion, makes the reader care about him on a personal level that cannot be reached when he is shown only as the master of deduction. King's treatment of this classic fictional figure has added a new element to my devotion. I absolutely cannot wait to read the rest of the series to see how Holmes progresses in this regard.
Russell is a strong protagonist. Admittedly, when I first started the book I had a problem with the fact that she was fifteen years old--the voice didn't seem quite right, or believable. I suppose it's not completely out of the scope of reason that a fifteen year old was/is capable of having a quick, intelligent mind, but one that could compete on a level with Holmes? (One, no less, that had seemingly little challenging education other than the books she constantly had her nose in.) I'm not entirely sure about that. It may just be that she intrigued him with the intelligence she displayed for her age, but that doesn't seem to be the case, at least not totally. I just found it rather curious that King decided to have her meet Holmes at such a young age.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I must say, this is one of my favorite books in the world. I first read it 5 years ago and it has never grown old. Anytime I am without a book to read, I pull it out and, once again, I am caught up in the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The book is about Mary Russel, a 15 year old girl who one day meets a retired Sherlock Holmes near his home on the Sussex countryside. She instantly catches his attention and becomes his protege for the next few years. Being an orphan, she is practically adopted by Holmes, who teaches her many skills that are useful in their line of work. When Russell turns 18, she goes off to Oxford to study-of all things-theology. While there, Holmes is attacked by a mysterious enemy who's plan is to not only hurt Holmes, but his close friends as well. This leads Holmes and Russell on a daring chase for a suprising enemy. And as their search goes on, Russell grows from being Holmes' student into his partner.
I have always found the Sherlock Holmes in Laurie R. King's books to be much more sociable, and likable, than the Holmes in Conan Doyle's books. Conan Doyle made him out as an omnipotent, all-powerful being. In Laurie R. King's books you see the more human side of him.
I've enjoyed all of Laurie R. King's books in this series. They are, so far, in order: The Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, The Moor, and O Jerusalem. I would recommend these books to anyone, especially someone who loves a good mystery.
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