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The Language of Bees: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes Paperback – April 27, 2010
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The Language of Bees: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
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Cornwell and Scarpetta...time to retire. There are some glimmers here that there is some hop, but
they are only glimmers. The more way out she goes with the stories the more I want to stop reading.
I actually have stopped for now. I may continue later. These series are hard to continue at the same
high standard. Other writers have had the same issue and either continued to write mediocre books
or stopped writing. I think these started out really cool and have evolved into fantasy or something.
I am not sure what has gone wrong, but this book is nowhere near the caliber of the early ones.
At the beginning of Locked Rooms, Russell drops a tantalizing clue about a case involving the Emperor of Japan, and I hoped it would be next in the series. Now it looks like I'll have to suffer through part 2 of The Language of Bees before there's a chance of a Japanese adventure.
If you're already into the series, I know you'll read this book, just as I will continue to read anything King writes in the Russell/Holmes saga. If you have not read any of the books, the best advice I can give you is do not start with this book. Instead read The Beekeeper's Apprentice, The Moor, Oh Jerusalem!, or The Game. Those books are simply amazing. This book, not so much.
Bee-keeping, standing stones, Aleister Crowley, French painters, an eclipse, and Holmes' son ~ how could this add up to anything other than the Philosopher's Stone?
Dunno, folks, but it didn't achieve critical mass.
I found very interesting the remarks of another reviewer who said that King's publisher was pushing for a higher page count. Well, if that's true, I don't see why it should obviate the possibility of an even better book. Look at the first in this series, The Bee-Keeper's Apprentice. It had the action and resolutions of several novels packed into one cover: fabulous. In many ways, the book is its mirror image: few plots, none resolved. "To be continued" is a total cheat. Unlike the 19th-century novels that came out in serial form, this wait will be not weeks, but years. And I don't think anyone is going to go down to the docks, al la The Old Curiosity Shop, for the next installment of this story.
For me, introducing the references to Crowley without following through was close to criminal. Crowley doesn't have the public profile of Holmes, but he was a fascinating/horrifying figure of the time - surely the most shaming-making alum that Trinity/Cambridge has. His various witchy works are the subtext for the group Russell and Holmes investigate, but King doesn't give us her version of the man. Other than Sylvia or Cristobel Pankhrust, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see King turn into a character.
As in the Monsterous Regiment, we get some London life and sub-cultures, although not nearly enough for me. The best thing about the novel - other than the idyllic time Russell spends alone in Sussex - is the presence of Mycroft, who comes close to being a fully developed character. Russell's time in the airplane is wonderfully rendered, but the tension it builds for the climax is cruelly betrayed.
To call the end of the book an anticlimax would be kind. I'm not feeling very kind at the moment, so I'll call it a cheap marketing ploy, the sort of thing to which I didn't think Laurie R King would sink.