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The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen (A Mary Russell Mystery) Hardcover – January 15, 1994
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
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Now in his declining years, Holmes lives in the country in a semi-retired state. His mind is as active as ever and he does take on the occasional case. Perhaps he has been watching for an appropriate candidate for an apprentice, but Mary Russell crosses his path and she proves worthy. Over time she earns and negotiates a position as his equal. In this respect, King's Holmes is new, different, and refreshing. He must accept Russell, and the vulnerability that implies, but he clearly values the companionship of someone so capable. He may also be securing his legacy by ensuring someone can fill his void after he is gone.
The result is the best of both worlds for the Holmes enthusiast: the familiar that you value from Doyle, plus this novel has something new to say about Holmes.
In viewing A Slight Trick of the Mind in the theater, i saw that Holmes, like myself, had grown old - a sad thing to watch. However Laurie King's novels concerning her and Holmes are delightful to read. She writes well; furthermore, if she continues her series, I will be able to read about my beloved Holmes and his tricks until I leave this earth.