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The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  42,216 ratings  ·  3,953 reviews
An Agatha Award Best Novel Nominee

From New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King comes the book that introduced us to the ingenious Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes mysteries.

In 1915, Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honeybees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and rece
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Picador (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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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.

The three main reasons:

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
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
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
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
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
Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted at The Literary

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
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
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
Nov 14, 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
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
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
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
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
Apr 25, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
I had so much fun reading this, and it was much better than I thought it was going to be. It totally charmed me.

It’s a good thing Laurie King is such a good writer, and is so good at creating atmosphere and characters you can love, because she was in real danger of stepping in that quicksand trap some writers get stuck and die in, where they take something truly beloved and either try to insert themselves, or completely mangle the original thing that is loved.

In this case, of course, that thing
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
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
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
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
Historical Fiction Exquisite

Reading this book, I felt as though I were standing still, lazing about at the end of an era, no inkling of time marching on outside my purview.

The unhurried pace at which the book begins, the cozy feel of the narration, the complete immersion into WWI Britain conspired together to utterly entrap me.

The pacing of this story is sheer perfection, the writing exquisite. The little things, the rich details of everyday life, were somehow woven together in such a way that t
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
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
For a while now I've heard of this series, and I bookmarked the list of books on my computer along with a huge list of other series that I need to get to/finish. So, finally, I decided I would try this one. And, being me, I already knew what would happen in some fashion between Mary Russell and Holmes. I didn't go into this completely blind, but I went blind enough.

The mystery in this book was, for me, secondhand. It was just another little storyline that I slightly followed. I was more interest
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
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
It was going to happen eventually - one of these days, I'd read a book twice and want to keep both dates on Goodreads. Solution: multiple editions! I don't know why I didn't think of this before.

Anyway, this time I read it for work (as a counterpoint to Hound of the Baskervilles last month), and last time I read it, I reviewed it here. All that still stands, it's a marvellous book and if you like the Holmes canon you should read it. It's a better novel-length story than ACD ever managed, for s
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
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
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  • The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan (Enola Holmes 4)
  • Seeing a Large Cat (Amelia Peabody, #9)
  • The Face of a Stranger (William Monk, #1)
  • Good Night, Mr. Holmes (Irene Adler, #1)
  • Messenger of Truth (Maisie Dobbs, #4)
  • Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #12)
  • A Duty To The Dead (Bess Crawford, #1)
  • When Gods Die (Sebastian St. Cyr #2)
  • Jane and the Man of the Cloth (Jane Austen Mysteries, #2)
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 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)

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“Eccentricty had flowered into madness.” 45 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.” 32 likes
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