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The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1)

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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  39,563 ratings  ·  3,755 reviews
Edgar Award-winning author Laurie R. King again proves her flair fortantalizing mystery in this first novel of an acclaimed series. Long sinceretired from his observations of criminal humanity, Sherlock Holmes is engagedin a reclusive study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. Never did heexpect to meet an intellect to match his own--until he made the acquaintance ofa ...more
Library Binding, 405 pages
Published October 1999 by Turtleback Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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Claire No. Although some of the books in this series contain sexual tension or hint at sex, none of them (to my knowledge) contain actual sex scenes.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alexandra
It might have been a matter of timing, or the way I experience the Sherlock Holmes canon, it might even be all Jeremy Brett’s fault. Or even Hugh Laurie’s. The fact is: I didn't really like The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.

My three major reasons:

Mary
It’s been a long time since I come across such a Mary Sue. Her gifts just keep piling up at an incredible speed from the first moment we (and Holmes) meet her. I got the feeling that King simply chose a favorite literary crush and then projected her wish-f
...more
Trin
Sherlock Holmes pastiche/continuation/fanfic in which Holmes, retired to beekeeping in Sussex, is so impressed by the intelligence of 15-year-old feminist Mary 'Sue' Russell that he decides to take her on as his apprentice-detective. Wacky adventures ensue.

Okay. There were some good things about this book. King's prose is enjoyable enough, and her dialogue is suitably witty. The narrative is rather too episodic for my taste, but there are some nice atmospheric touches. And I like the idea of Hol
...more
Stephen
4.0 stars. I went through a lot of turmoil both in deciding to read this book and then while I was reading it. The Pre-read turmoil stems from the fact that while I have always liked the “idea” of the character of Sherlock Holmes, I have not always enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stories that I have read. They have been a bit dry for my taste. However, I LOVED The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which took the character of Sherlock Holmes and put him in bizarre and unique surroundings (i.e ...more
Felicia
My friend Veronica Belmont recommended this book and after I watched the first episode of season 2 of the BBC Sherlock (OMG IT IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS!) I got fixated on Holmes and needed this book.

IT"S SO GOOD! What a great reinterpretation of Holmes and his young apprentice, who grows to become his equal. The partnership that is formed between the two of them is so organic and believable, and Mary Russell is a whip-smart protagonist that I rooted for on every page. It's definitely not a romance bo
...more
David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party"
Mary Russell, also known as The Beekeeper's Apprentice, proves to be a wonderful addition to the Sherlock Holmes mythos!

When 15-year-old Mary Russell almost tripped over the peculiar man while he was obsessively studying his bees, she never imagined such an accidental (and clumsy) encounter would change her life forever! But as it turns out, that man was semi-retired detective Sherlock Holmes, and when the precocious Mary is able to match wits with him (both with her deductive reasoning and her
...more
Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted at The Literary Lawyer.ca

A Sweeping and Enchanting Tale - 4.5 Stars

In the past couple of years I have firmly decided that I love a great character driven novel. The Beekeeper's Apprentice fits that bill. It takes a tried and true character in Sherlock Holmes and adds a spunky young feminist into the mix. The result is an excellent novel with nuanced and complex characters. If you like your mysteries to be character driven, this one may be right up your alley.

Plot summary

The stor
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Kaora
When faced with the unthinkable, one chooses the merely impossible.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice follows Mary Rusell, who meets the great Sherlock Holmes when she trips over him. This book follows their blossoming relationship, starting with their very first cases, moving on to one of the most clever villains ever faced.

Sometimes you have to sacrifice a queen in order to save the game.

I should start this off by saying I have not read the original Sherlock Holmes books.

With that said I found the re
...more
Bonnie
Feb 26, 2015 Bonnie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sherlock-Lovers
Recommended to Bonnie by: Maja
4.5 stars

Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog!

If you’re in any way a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this book/series is a must read for you. I’m new to the world of Sherlock Holmes but I immediately loved him following his first book A Study in Scarlet and I desperately wanted to read more stories about him.

Sherlock Holmes is now a retired beekeeper residing in Sussex Downs. Despite the fact that he is retired, his mind is still just as sharp and he still assists the police in solving local
...more
Phrynne
This was an easy read, nicely written with some interesting characters but a couple of problems for me. Firstly I was uncomfortable with Mary only being fifteen. She is a very mature fifteen but it seemed far fetched that she could have had the freedom to do as she does in this story. Secondly I struggled with her relationship with Holmes. The author tried to explain it as father/daughter, partner, associate, friend and towards the end (when she has aged a little) more than just a friend. None o ...more
Werner
Aug 21, 2008 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans, esp. Sherlock Holmes fans
One of the weaknesses of the original Sherlock Holmes canon is that Doyle doesn't offer much in the way of female characters. The only woman Holmes genuinely admired, Irene Adler, appears only in "A Scandal in Bohemia;" Watson married at the end of The Sign of Four, but his wife's presence doesn't bulk very large in the novels and stories (half the time, Doyle apparently didn't remember whether Watson was supposed to be married or not, just as he couldn't remember if the doctor's war wound was i ...more
Kim
Since joining Goodreads I've discovered a taste for all sorts of books which I would have ignored only a year ago. Some books which I've read over the past few months have simply not come my way before. Others I have made a conscious decision at some point in the past not to read, but have changed my mind about, encouraged by positive reviews or a desire to participate in a group read.

This book falls into the second category. Years ago I read and enjoyed King's Kate Martinelli series (although
...more
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

It takes guts to mess with a canon as sacred to fans as the Holmesian one. It takes skill (and a healthy dose of respect) to do it well. Author Laurie King shows off all of these traits in abundance in her debut novel featuring famed and beloved master detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick John Watson Mary Russell. Yep, you heard me, Mary Russell: half American, half Jewish, 15 years old at the beginning of the story, and 100% Holmes' equal in spirit and intel
...more
Jessica
Apr 25, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Peggy
A witty, big-hearted book narrated by Sherlock Holmes's teenage apprentice-cum-partner, Mary Russell. It was a delight to be party to Russell and Holmes's verbal parrying and dry humor. Mary Russell is a heroine that would be hard not to love, with her unapologetic independence and rampant bookwormery.

The dialogue from both main characters is delicious. I love passages like this, after Mary asks Holmes if her presence is inconvenient (they do make an odd pair):

"To my considerable surprise, Russe
...more
Eve
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 seas
...more
Alice
This series (of which this book is the first) follows the exploits of a young woman called Mary Russell living in the earlier half of the twentieth century.

This books begins in 1915. Mary is an orphan living with her aunt, whom she doesn't get along with, in the English countryside. One day while wandering the Sussex Downs reading Virgil, she nearly steps on a man lying on the ground observing bees. His name is Sherlock Holmes.

King handles the inclusion of Holmes well, she even states that thi
...more
Connie
Mary Russell, a precocious fifteen-year-old, is walking with her nose in a book when she trips over Sherlock Holmes. The semi-retired detective is sitting in the grass in the Sussex Downs observing bees. Mary has been recently orphaned, and is living with a difficult aunt until she reaches adulthood. Holmes is impressed with the girl's intelligence, her skills of observation, and her powers of deduction. He becomes her friend, and later takes her on as an apprentice. His housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, ...more
Lizzie
I know I read some, maybe all, of the Holmes stories when I was a kid. My knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is mostly from the movies, though, including that unfortunate picture in which Basil Rathbone, I mean Holmes, fights the Nazis. (I just googled and there are three Holmes vs. Nazi movies, for god's sake.)

Anyway, this is a perfectly adequate mystery (and I'm deliberately damning with faint praise), but the book is more about the relationship between Holmes and Mary Russell than about the mystery
...more
Becky
Jun 22, 2010 Becky rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Laura, Bondama
This book is one that has been recommended to me by quite a few people... I probably would have never picked it up, having practically no interest in beekeeping myself (although I certainly do think that bees are important... SAVE THE BEES!), but people kept telling me to read this, read this, read this now! So, I finally got around to reading it, only to find that the expectations that I'd set for it actually hampered my enjoyment of this book.

I've only read one Sherlock Holmes story, the firs
...more
Caitie
Jan 26, 2009 Caitie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caitie by: Kelly
Shelves: mystery
I really disliked the conceit that the book is a manuscript sent to Laurie King and the resulting first-person, memoirish narration. (The narrator often talks forebodingly of things that will happen later in the novel!) But the romance is definitely my biggest problem. I actually don't have a problem with the way Holmes or Watson were written, and the idea of Holmes as a mentor is fun and intriguing.

But then my sister told me that Mary and Holmes get married, and as much as I enjoy a May/Decemb
...more
Tara Chevrestt
What a great idea! The author has created a lady assistant to the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Mary Russell matches him in wit, smarts, and most likely surpasses him the looks department. They meet when she is 15 and he is 45 and the story begins...

My problems: A. The beginning is full of irrelevant stuff like her schooling and her participating in plays. B. It takes WAY too long for the book to reach the case talked about on the book flap. By the time I reached that point, I discovered my mind wa
...more
Stacey
I wrote a nice review, then crashed my browser window. This is the "I'm so not reconstructing that" rewrite version.

Read this, loved it. Not a huge Sherlock fan, but I liked the BBC miniseries, which is a very different sort of Holmes than this, but still quite recognizable. Mary might be just a little too perfect in the beginning, (with of course, her flaw/secret,) but it didn't bother me, because I really enjoyed the writing and pacing.

Haven't yet picked up Mary Russell #2, which might have
...more
April Cote
A nice twist on the original Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock befriends Mary, a young woman who is an equal to him in almost every way. I liked her strong character and determination to work just as hard as him while solving crimes. Their relationship is a close one at the end of the book, nothing really happens, but moments of tenderness that go beyond friendship. Possibly a future romance? Only reading the rest of the series will tell.
A fun, light read with just enough mystery and British humor to ke
...more
R.J.
As a lifelong obsessive with Holmes I can't tell you how many Holmes pastiches I read before I found this one, but seriously, once I'd discovered these there was no need to look further.

The fact that I immediately went on to start the first web page devoted to the Russell books and then spent ten years moderating a mailing list called RUSS-L will probably give you another clue to how much I love this book. None of the sequels have surpassed it in my view (at least not yet), but I've enjoyed them
...more
Jon
Jun 30, 2013 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: KC Public Library 2010 Adult Winter Reading Program 'Readers in
Allison (The Allure of Books)
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King has been on my radar for quite a long time. A good friend on Goodreads first recommended it to me years ago. When it popped up on a post written by Angie, I knew it was time. What I didn’t know was that I’d spend the entire book kicking myself for not having introduced myself to Mary Russell years ago when I first had the chance.

You guys, this is definitely a case of reading the right book at the right time. With the right mood. And the right lunar align
...more
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Dec 06, 2011 Anne (Booklady) Molinarolo rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anne (Booklady) by: Seasonal Reading Challenge Group
I enjoy reading Sir Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, though I haven’t entered Holmes and Watson’s Victorian world in at least five years. THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE premise of a young girl with as much intellect matching the master detective appealed to me. I expected the super sleuth’s tutorial of the young Mary Russell and read a grand tale of an important case worthy of the Great Sherlock Holmes. The book within the novel, “On Segregation of the Queen”, is the memoirs of Mary Russell. Through p ...more
Hazel
Sep 15, 2010 Hazel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beth
Shelves: crime
I haven't made up my mind about this. I wasn't a fan of Sherlock Holmes, and I'm somewhat suspicious of fanfiction, (a prejudice, of course). But King opens her story so sweetly that I can't resist. The Editor's Preface, the Author's Note are conceits, but charming conceits. And then,
I was fifteen when I first met Sherlock Holmes, fifteen years old with my nose in a book as I walked the Sussex Downs, and nearly stepped on him. In my defence I must say it was an engrossing book, and it was very
...more
Barb
3.5 Stars

I wasn't sure about this at first, there were times when I thought about giving it up for the new book that was whispering in my ear from the TBR pile.

I had a little bit of trouble with the prologue where King says the memoirs of Mary Russell were delivered to her with no return address in the bottom of an old fashioned traveling trunk and she set them aside not knowing what to make of them. Then years later decided to send them to her editor and eventually publish the memoirs with the
...more
Jesse
Sep 07, 2007 Jesse rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Female detectives
I am by no means the most devoted of Holme's fans, though i do find him a very influential character on many newer characters I truly could not live without. So to that end, I could say I would be far less happy, literarilly(sp?), if Holme's had never existed.

Having said that you shall know to take my enthusiasm for this novel with a grain of salt, for I am biased in favor of the subject matter. Sherlock Holmes AND a strong female detective. Its like Laurie R. King is the love child of Sir Arthu
...more
Donna
I had no idea what this book was about before I started it. I was expecting bees to be a large part of this. What a nice surprise this turned out to be. I really enjoyed this. I thought it was cleverly written. I loved the focus on the characters because I completely felt something for them.

I also loved the female MC. She was great. It is always nice to see a smart and competent girl in a story and she was able to hold her own with the best of them.
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  • The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye (Enola Holmes Mysteries, #6)
  • Lion in the Valley  (Amelia Peabody, #4)
  • Pardonable Lies (Maisie Dobbs, #3)
  • Silent in the Sanctuary (Lady Julia, #2)
  • Good Night, Mr. Holmes (Irene Adler, #1)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (Lord Peter Wimsey, #13)
  • Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr, #4)
  • Blind Justice (Sir John Fielding, #1)
  • The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1)
  • A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
THE LRK VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB here on Goodreads--please join us for book-discussing fun.

King's most recent novel, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
...more
More about Laurie R. King...

Other Books in the Series

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2)
  • A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3)
  • The Moor (Mary Russell, #4)
  • O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5)
  • Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
  • The Game (Mary Russell, #7)
  • Locked Rooms (Mary Russell, #8)
  • The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9)
  • The God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)
  • Pirate King (Mary Russell, #11)
A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2) O Jerusalem (Mary Russell, #5) A Letter of Mary (Mary Russell, #3) The Language of Bees (Mary Russell, #9) Locked Rooms (Mary Russell, #8)

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“Eccentricty had flowered into madness.” 46 likes
“You cannot help being a female, and I should be something of a fool were I to discount your talents merely because of their housing.” 27 likes
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