I have been a big Sherlock Holmes fan for over 55 years. I usually like to read stories about Holmes that are not written by his creator. Recently, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King was recommended to me by a source I trust. In her multi-volume series Ms. King replaces Dr. John Watson with Mary Russell as Holmes’ protégé and partner.
The story begins in 1915 on Sussex Downs in southern England. 15-year-old Mary literally stumbles over Holmes in a field where he is observing bees. Mary immediately offers her expertise on bees in general and locally in particular. Holmes is so impressed that he takes Mary, an orphan with some money of her own, under his wing. Eventually Holmes and friends have tutored Mary enough that she is able to attend Oxford University.
In this first volume of Laurie King’s series, the team of Russell and Holmes rescue the kidnapped daughter of a United States Senator and solve a string of serial bombings. The violence they face is mostly off stage and it is not graphically described. Along the way, Dr. Watson and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother) are re-introduced to Holmes’ fans. Inspector Lestrade’s son, who is also an Inspector with Scotland Yard, is introduced for the first time. The much-hated Professor Moriarity and his offspring are resurrected. Russell and Holmes travel to Wales, Palestine, and throughout much of central England. The backdrop of World War I is also present.
The writing is solid but not spectacular. The book is a quick read. I could not put it down when I reached the climax of the stories. I do have some problem with the travel plans of Holmes and Russell (for example traveling east by train from Sussex Downs to Wales). Recommended for fans of Sherlock Holmes in particular and mystery fans in general.
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–Jim Harris, retired sales rep
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What are your favorite versions of Sherlock Holmes? For more books inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creations, enjoy Amanda MacNaughton’s post from 2013.