Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R King

The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Laurie R King

1915. The great detective Sherlock Holmes is retired and quietly engaged in the study of honey bees when a young woman literally stumbles into him on the Sussex Downs. Fifteen years old, gawky, egotistical, and recently orphaned, the young Mary Russell displays an intellect to impress even Sherlock Holmes - and match him wit for wit. Under his reluctant tutelage, this very modern twentieth-century woman proves a deft protegee and a fitting partner for the Victorian detective. In their first case together, they must track down a kidnapped American senator's daughter and confront a truly cunning adversary - a bomber who has set trip-wires for the sleuths and who will stop at nothing to end their partnership.

Allison & Busby


Rosy's scrawlings on The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Just a short note on when I read this, how long it took and its perfection as the book to read at the time. I first started this book, a paragraph at a time, in hospital while caring for my new bub. I didn't manage to read much, as you'd imagine, and so the pattern continued for about a week. After that I read a few pages at a time during the midnight and early morning hours while feeding my bub and waiting for him to calm and drop off to sleep. And recently I've managed to read a few pages to a chapter at a time. 2 and a bit months later I've finished the book and have to say I couldn't have picked a better one for broken reading patterns, a reasonable level of stress and weariness, not to mention the general attention deficit parenting causes. High praise indeed considering I couldn't find another book in my rather large collection that would have done the trick of entertaining me, being highly memorable in minute detail and easily read in whatever portion manageable.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice is an interesting piece of crime fiction, especially given the dual trends towards violent murders and serial killings as well as homey neighbourhood crime watch stories. Instead of either, the story focuses on a series of crimes - kidnap through to attempted murder - and the detective work needed to solve them. Crime and detection divide the story into separate books in a manner that is reflective of Conan Doyle's style when writing the Sherlock Holmes stories. The flow of action, inclusive of Holmes' famous abductive and deductive reasoning, is quick but the steady pace by which information is divulged keeps the story as calm and thoughtful as it is dramatic. New to stories involving Sherlock Holmes are several issues regarding the sexes, which are neatly woven into the text. This might seem odd at first but these issues add depth both to the story and to Holmes' character, making him more instead of unbearably warping him. I believe this was made possible by the original Holmes simply not addressing or thinking on women much at all. Unless it was concerning a case.
On the issue of Sherlock Holmes' character, he retains all the essential personality traits and habits, including the violin playing and penchant for costumes and wild studies, but in The Beekeeper's Apprentice he is an aged version and with his age comes some mellowing. But only some. He also has a desire to find and groom his detective successor. As a representation of the original Sherlock there's more than enough to keep the fans of Conan Doyle's works happy. And as an added bonus, Sherlock isn't represented in first person but remains one to be looked upon and studied carefully, this time by Mary Russell who is his pupil and successor.
Unlike other books I'll leave all but the blurb and the beginning of the story (Mary Russell becoming Holmes' pupil) from the review for the very reason that if I mention one too many facts I might well destroy the delightful progression of the story. This is one book that needs to be read with only Conan Doyle's works as reference, if you'd like (the story would be enjoyable without reading of Sherlock in his original format, however). Avoiding in-depth blurbs is highly advisable as clues are dropped as soon as the case begins while the mood and mindset is set right from the beginning.

I'd recommend this book to: those who love stories on Sherlock Holmes and don't mind limited adjustments and progressions to his original character, crime and historical fiction as well as books with a mild, considering mood.

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