THE BEEKEEPER’S APPRENTICE by Laurie R. King

I have spent the past two & 1/2 months enmeshed in the world of D’Hara and the Midlands. Translation: I just read all 11 Sword of Truth novels by Terry Goodkind, back-to-back-to-back. And when I emerged from the land of war wizards and confessors, I was stuck with “what do I read next?” When you are so completely wrapped up in an author, it’s difficult to switch gears. However, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice  was the perfect bring me back to reality (almost) book. 
From the back cover:  In 1915, long since retired from his crime-fighting days, Sherlock Holmes is engaged in a reclusive study of honeybees on the Sussex Downs. Never did the Victorian detective think to meet an intellect matching his own – until his acquaintance with Miss Mary Russell, a young twentieth-century lady whose mental acuity is equaled only by her penchant for deduction, disguises, and danger. Under Holmes’s reluctant tutelage, Russell embarks on a case involving a landowner’s mysterious fever and the kidnapping of an American senator’s daughter in the wilds of Wales. Then a near-fatal bomb on her doorstep – and another on Holmes’s – sends the two sleuths on the trail of a murderer who scatters bizarre clues and seems utterly without motive. The villain’s objective, however, is quite unequivocal: to end Russel and Holmes’s partnership – and then their lives.
I was hooked on this book from the opening sentence: “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.” That’s me! Except I don’t step on anyone nearly as interesting as Sherlock Holmes. Rather, I walk into light posts (which Mary Russell does later on in the book), or tables. I have innumerable bruises on my hips from walking into the corner of one table or another.
You get to see the softer side of Sherlock Holmes in this book, in his affection towards his protege. And the feelings are enhanced by the sheer intelligence of Mary Russell. It’s always nice to read about smart, she would say brilliant, women and I was interested to see that although Holmes accepts her as an assistant, then associate, and finally partner, males in positions of authority still refuse to believe in her abilities, always deferring to him.
I was disappointed in the heavy of the piece. After an intricate chase, where the villain leaves all manner of misleading and disturbing clues, the denouement was a bit of a let down. The pursuit was like a chess match with first one side then another getting the advantage, but the antagonist was almost 2-dimensional when introduced. I was not shocked at all by the identity or the motive. 
All in all, I would give this book 4 stars out of 5. I truly enjoyed reading about the deductive methods Holmes and Russell employed during their adventures. I was just disappointed in one or two chapters at the end. However, I’m not going to let that stand in the way of enjoying more books by Laurie King, both in her Russell/Holmes series and in her Kate Martinelli Mysteries.
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