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The Language of Bees (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #9)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  12,258 Ratings  ·  939 Reviews
In a case that will push their relationship to the breaking point, Mary Russell must help reverse the greatest failure of her legendary husband's storied past--a painful and personal defeat that still has the power to sting...this time fatally.
For Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes, returning to the Sussex coast after seven months abroad was especially sweet. T
Hardcover, Bantam Dell, 435 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by Random House
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Apr 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The latest (ninth) adventure for Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russell, begins as they arrive at their home in Sussex after an absence of almost a year. The immediate problem of the missing bees from their farthest beehive means that they don't even get into the house before going to check on the hive.

When they get back to the house and even bigger surprise awaits. Sherlock's son Damian (his mother is Irene Adler!) is waiting on the doorstep with a problem. A big one. It seems his Chinese w
Oct 21, 2009 rated it liked it
This will not make me popular with the rabid Russell fans of which I can count myself. It almost feels sacreligious to say I was disappointed with the newest novel by Laurie King "The Language of Bees" but there it is, what a let down. I was anticipating a rousing period mystery with Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell collaborating like old times but what transpires is a complete absence of Holmes right from his abrupt departure in the first chapter. I thought the plot was clever, especially the a ...more
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction, kindle

This installment in the adventures of Russell and Holmes finds the pair back in England after an extended absence, dealing with the unexpected appearance of Damian Adler, an artist with a very close connection to Holmes who needs his help.

Against all my expectations, I've very much enjoyed reading this series. King is an excellent writer. Her prose is great, her characters interesting and she can weave a plot with the best of them. It was disappointing, therefore, to find myself underwhelmed by
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

For me, my favorite part of this series is the interplay between Holmes and Russell. With that said, it was somewhat of a disappointment to me that this was another book in the series where the two spent more time apart than together. Especially considering that the case is so personal, and could have ramifications of their relationship - and that there is mention of other relationship stuff from prior events as well - but none of these are really addressed or dealt with at all.

It could've be
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
actually i only read the first two chapters online, since the book only comes out by the end of april!
it promises to be fantastic according to these chapters!

this is a real pageturner! just right, not too bloody, not too cozy, like i said, just right! and so british i simply love it, even made me have toast and orangemarmelade for breakfast!

i loved it, but there are some loose ends, thank god there will be a sequel!
Katherine P
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-read, 2016
This book has been on my shelf for years and is from one of my favorite series but I've been dragging my feet on picking it up for quite some time. I think the main reason was because I was afraid I wouldn't remember what had happened in the previous books and I felt like I should reread them but there was no way I was going to have time for that as much as I'd like too. So I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it and I'm so glad I did. While I don't remember the specifics of their advent ...more
David Higgins
May 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
A load of utter rubbish. That I managed to trawl though to the "end" of this pile of interminable toss still bewilders me. I mean it is really bad. There are no situations in this book that can be remotely seen as thrilling. all problems are solved for the characters before hand so they just waltz through seemingly "tense" situations, need to get into a house, oh just as well I brought my bolt cutters along with me, "Oh I'm sneaking about in a house and the occupant has just opened the door. I k ...more
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult-books
This isn't my favorite of the Mary Russell books, but it does add to our knowledge of Sherlock Holmes (was in love with an actress, Irene Adler as a young man; he has a son, Damian, unknown to him until 1919 and whose whereabouts have been unknown since then). When Damian Adler, shows up in Sussex at the Holmes/Russell home on the day that they have returned from a long time away, both Holmes and Russell are surprised that he is there, but relieved that he is alive and apparently well. He has co ...more
Review from Badelynge
The 9th Mary Russell book, or alternatively, you could think of it as the first half of the 9th book as this one ends on a big TBC.
Laurie R King doesn't disappoint very often and this is a very solid addition to the long running series. The last few books have been part of a globe trotting arc as Sherlock Holmes and Russell travel through Asia and America. If you are new to the series and can't get hold of the first book - 1994's The Beekeeper's Apprentice - then you could d
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Bales
Sep 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Mary Russell series of books is one of my favorites and this entry does not disappoint. In my opinion, few authors have been able to take a successful fictional character which another author has created and and make that character work for them. Laurie R. King has done so with Sherlock Holmes. I am not usually a fan of the May/December romance concept but this author makes one believe that here are two very unusual people who, had they not found each other, would probably each have lived ou ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I need to re-read the Mary Russell series - many of the references from this entry (#9) back to previous books went over my head. It's been awhile!

But it's still an excellent mystery on its own. Russell and Holmes investigate a man's missing family -- complicated by the identity of the man himself, someone closely related to Holmes. Holmes wants to protect him, so Mary and Mycroft (Sherlock's brother) find themselves leading major portions of the investigation to try and keep him from discoverin
Sarah Coyne
Mar 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I really like this series, and this book was pretty good but not life changing. There were some exciting parts, but some that dragged. I like the interplay between Holmes and Russel, but this book took me a really long time to get through for some reason. I'll still probably read the next in the series though!
Krisette Spangler
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This was another brilliant addition to the Mary Russell series. I could not put it down, and then the book ended with a cliff hanger, and I had to start reading book 10 immediately. I'm not going to get anything done this week.
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous read! One of the best entries in an insanely good series.
Amalie Simper
The 9th book of the series..and we finally have a cliff hanger. The book doesn't end!!! Not that I wasn't going to finish reading the series but I have now started reading 2-3 books between each book in this series to enjoy each book and I really have to go get the next book and start it right away. This book is about a very personal mystery involving Holmes son Damian Alder. It really does fit in a good place in the series right after we spend a book learning about Russell's past. It was fun to ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2017, own
Reader's Note: Unlike the other books in the Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series, this one ends with a " be continued" so you may want to have the next, The God of the Hive, waiting on your shelf.
An Odd1
Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
"The Language of Bees" (Mary Russell, #9) by Laurie R. King hopscotches, the peak an exciting aeroplane flight in rough weather. I love flying anywhere anytime; early history turned dramatic chase is ... thrilling. Feeling a part of Holmes, three generations of that cool grey gaze is ... intoxicating. The villain seems trite. Overall is disappointing. That the author can hold suspense through a plot that feels old in summary is an exceptional amazing talent I admire tremendously. The ending is a ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
For those who don't know, the Mary Russell series are books of basically Sherlock Holmes fan fiction. Set in the early 20th Century, King gives Holmes a female romantic and professional partner, Mary Russell, a much younger--and feminist partner. And yes, incongruous and unlikely as that might sound, they work. A lot of the fun is the depiction of Holmes--I'm a fan of the original Conan Doyle stories. Some is just the character of Mary, a strong woman protagonist and vivid character in her own r ...more
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes Holmes or the author's other works
Although the author took a break from the series, she plopped this book in front of us as if she never stopped. It has all of the care, character development and attention to detail the we naturally expect. Like all of her other books in this series, it clearly has careful research as its backbone. Did I like it? Yes, very much (and that goes for the eight prior novels as well). Would I recommend it? Yes, again.

Although memory and time may be misleading me, it seems that the interactions of the
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lady Knight
Weighing in at 432 pages, this is definately the biggest Mary Russell mystery to date. Along with its impressive size, the plot was incredible! I was so happy to receive my copy and sat down to read over half of the book in one sitting (five hours of bliss! - much to the detriment of other things that needed doing...). Amazing is the only possible word to describe this story!

Russell and Holmes have just returned home after almost a year spent abroad solving all manner of crimes (detailed in the
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very different from the first Laurie R King book I read- 'A letter of Mary'- this novel is almost twice the size and therefore slower paced and more intricate but is still a great read. As soon as you start the first chapter the writing flows effortlessly and you feel immersed in this other world.

Without giving too much away the novel revolves around religion, a speciality of Mary's, and the research that went into the plotting and background was copious, Laurie King actually devised a pseudo r
Kivrin Engle
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another stellar installment for the Mary Russell series. Thank you, Ms. King. Now, I know many of you are upset that this novel ends with a cliffhanging notation, but in all fairness to our author, she gave us plenty of warning-- within her bio on the The Language of Bees book jacket, during her current reading tour for Bees and in her online blog, Mutterings (See "The Green Man"). As I had recently gone to a reading at our local bookshop, I was well-prepared for the "to be continued...", not th ...more
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How Laurie King integrates bee lore with Sherlockian lore is a wondrous mix. It is not really important to be a lover of bees because Ms. King's research provides plenty of interest. As in three other novels with the secret life of bees integral to their plot, "The Language of Bees" is up there with the best.

How Mary Russell came to be the wife of Sherlock Holmes becomes plausible in the retelling of the story here. Holmes with a son married to a former Chinese prostitute and with a daughter? A
Pamela Gibson
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Since this comes out just before my birthday, I choose to think of it as a reward for making it through yet another year in fine form. Going to live in the Russell universe for a few hours is a vacation, and it is by far the cheapest one I know of. Better yet, it can be enjoyed over and over, and with all the layers and references and complexities, it is new each time. The characters live in readers' minds, and they hop around in ways we don't see coming, even though the author has played by the ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really fun, intense read, with Crowley followers, black masses, and brilliantly described, harrowing early twentieth century air travel.
However. A 400 page novel that ends on a cliffhanger? Ack!
May 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Holmes and Russell return to England where they start chasing a serial killer with ties to the ancient pagan sites of Britain. Holmes goes off with their client, while Russell gets to know her brother-in-law Mycroft better. In their quest to protect innocent lives, Holmes and Russell cross paths with a religious cult and its mysterious leader.
Evaluating the cult with the cynical Russell is a delight. She also takes a tour through London's Bohemia, and the world of 1920s art. The reader also lea
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting and waiting for a new Mary Russell book. While I very much enjoyed this latest installment (which builds on a small mention of Holmes' son from The Monstrous Regiment of Women), it's not my favorite of the series. As other reviewers have mentioned, the usual banter between Mary and Holmes was missing from this one. I also felt that some parts of the story, such as the plane ride, included too much description and too many details which weren't needed.

The ending also didn't tie
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
loved this book. and the God of the Hive is the continuation of this particular story/mystery.
i jumped right in. i have an addictive personality and i can't seem to turn away from this series.
more more! they are smart, and challenge me in the vernacular. they are brilliantly told with excitement, and bring me into the plot, giving me evidence to try to come up with my own guess at the outcome.
i don't know how an author can do so much in the way of research and still be as prolific as she is.
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Q&A with Laurie R...: The significance of bees to the larger story 6 121 Sep 12, 2012 11:38AM  
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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 2018 novel, Island of the Mad, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from London's Bedlam to the glitter of Venice's Lido,where Young Things and the friends of Cole Porter pass Mussolini's Blackshir
More about Laurie R. King

Other books in the series

Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (1 - 10 of 15 books)
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1)
  • 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 God of the Hive (Mary Russell, #10)
  • Pirate King (Mary Russell, #11)

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“I would have stolen it for you, had I known you were interested." His voice was muffled by the door to the lumber room down the hallway, and I heard thumps and a crash.
I raised my voice a trifle more than mere volume required. "I'm interested because she was. Both of them, come to that--Damian's art is infused with mystic symbols and traditions."
Holmes' voice answered two inches away from my ear, making me jerk and spray a handful of maps across the floor. "Religion can be a dangerous thing, it is true," he remarked darkly, and went out again.”
“Holmes, you're a genius.
So I have been told.”
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