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Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Title: The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Author: Laurie R. King
Page Count: 384 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: mystery
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:
Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test.
*****

This was an engrossing book- the kind where the subtle details and the narrative really grabbed me.  I forget where I'd first come across this book but was especially pleased to find that it's the first in a really well-established series.  I love when that happens!

I really like books that show to advantage the author's enjoyment of a particular genre or character.  That's totally the case here- you can tell that the author really loves Sherlock Holmes and as a result has gotten the tone and surrounding narrative pinned down.  Using that as a base, the new element (a young lady who thinks the way Holmes does and is as quick on the uptake as one can be) is introduced and you end up with something that feels new but retains the qualities of the original.  It's a rare feat.

Mary Russell and Holmes are an incredible team, because both of them have to challenge their prejudices and work together.  A working relationship blossoms into friendship, and friendship is becoming something more, especially at the end of the story.  The novel is even set up in the story collection style of the original Holmes books, where the different segments are shorter stories that tell the story of one of the cases that Mary and Holmes worked together.  They're all connected, though, so don't think it's an anthology, but there are natural break times that make sense within the story.

Upon finishing this story I immediately checked my library to see if the next story (chronologically) was available, and it was! It's now in my pile of books to be read, and I'm looking forward to writing about that one too.

Overall Rating:


 
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