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November 28, 2016

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

screen-shot-2016-11-23-at-3-05-34-pmThe Beekeeper’s Apprentice

By: Laurie R. King

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is the first in a sequel series to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series.  Unlike many Sherlockian tributes, this series is unique in its use of a heroine (named Mary Russell) as the star of the action, with Holmes as her mentor and eventual equal.  In a way, it struck me as a feminist take on the traditionally male-dominated role of detective.  The setting, England during World War I, is particularly suited to this venture, as women were experiencing greater freedom in taking on the roles commonly given to men, simply due to the men being needed on the front. King claims that she chose this setting to suit the character of Mary Russell, who sprung from her mind nearly fully-formed and with a life of her own, and the reader is swept along in her unique perspective of the events she faces after meeting Holmes.

As a frequent viewer and reader of the traditional Sherlock stories, I must confess I enjoyed Russell as a foil to Holmes more than Watson.  As lovable as he is, Watson consistently portrays Holmes as a hero with superior intellect, which can grow tiresome when you want to know more about Holmes’s character, but Russell, as his equal, is able to show many facets to his personality we might not otherwise see.  Of course, this is all from the mind of the author and not Doyle himself, but that is part of the fun of sequels and spin-offs.

Though I have not yet read the many sequels in this series (which is still being added to), I highly recommend that mystery lovers and historical buffs give it a try.  Between the character development or the building mystery and suspense, there is hardly a dull moment.  And be prepared for some cliff-hanger chapters that demand a turn of the page.


Review By:  Alison Frolik