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 rare to come across another person in that particular part of the world in that war year of 1915. In my seven weeks of peripatetic reading amongst the sheep (which tended to move out of my way) and the gorse bushes (to which I had painfully developed an instinctive awareness) I had never before stepped on a person.
Read Laurie’s thoughts on writing The Beekeeper’s Apprentice on Mutterings.
Explore Mary Russell’s World.
Read an excerpt from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice here.
Email PDF link to a friend.
Join the VBC discussion of this book.
Buy It Here
Signed or not, here’s where you can buy the book.
What they say
From Anna Quindlen’s How Reading Changed my Life: The 10 mystery novels I’d most like to find in a summer rental:
- An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (PD James)
- Gaudy Night (Dorothy Sayers)
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (Laurie R. King)
- Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)
- Get Shorty (Elmore Leonard)
- Dancers in Mourning (Margery Allingham)
- The Way Through the Woods (Colin Dexter)
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle)
- Brat Farrer (Josephine Tey)
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (John leCarre)
The narrator of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Mary Russell, is a brilliant but unhappy young woman, recently orphaned and now heir to a sizeable estate, who literally stumbles over the retired detective in the middle of the Sussex Downs. When she and Holmes meet, she is fifteen and he is fifty-four, but the two form an instantaneous friendship which soon becomes a partnership as he begins to teach her the art of detecting. They pursue a succession of cases together, but what began as a pleasant diversion swiftly turns into a deadly game of chess with a mysterious, ruthless enemy from Holmes’s past.” (from “the official Mary Russell fan site.”)
As every good mystery reader knows, when Sherlock Holmes quit detection, he retired to the South Downs to keep bees. What he wanted was the quiet life. What he got, according to Laurie King, was a gawky but fiercely intelligent apprentice. Not only that, but this apprentice was a young woman….For my money, Laurie King is the most interesting writer to emerge on the American crime fiction front in recent years. Intelligent, humane, gifted with both talent and insight, she is an unalloyed pleasure to read. (Manchester Evening News–Val McDermid)
Imagine Sherlock Holmes retiring to a Sussex farm but keeping his hand in by occasionally investigating cases for the British government…. Then picture Holmes, walking on the Sussex Downs, literally stumbling across a 15 year-old girl whose brilliant intellect, caustic wit, egotistical personality, and gift for detail rival Holmes’ own. (Booklist)
King has created a fitting partner for the Great Detective: a quirky, intelligent woman who can hold her own with a man renowned for his contempt for other people’s thought processes. (Publishers Weekly)
Something stirs between supersleuth and acolyte, but it’s still a bit cerebral. Give it time. King’s novel is civilized, ingenious and engrossing. Best of all, it has heart. (Times Literary Review)
BOOK magazine (Jan 2004) ranked the “sidekicks” of mystery fiction, from Koko and Yum Yum the cats (Lilian Jackson Braun) to “Mouse” Alexander (Walter Mosley). The winner, with 40 points, was Hawk (Robert B. Parker)—and who would dare argue with Hawk? But second with 30 points was…”Sherlock Holmes, husband and mentor to Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell.”
Ten years of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice covers and art
A version of the Holmes manual on beekeeping (with thanks to Rebecca Sacks)
Essay by Fred Erisman, If Watson Were a Woman.
For a bibliography and Laurie’s suggestions to teacher and book groups, click here.
Click to enlarge.
|Map of England from the 1910 Baedeker’s Guide to Great Britain||The Sussex coast near Holmes’ cottage|
|A Romany cart||Ponies in Wales|
|Holmes’ neighbourhood on the Sussex Downs (Ordinance Survey map of 1933)||
Ten years of The Beekeeper’s Apprenticecovers and art