Sherlock Holmes is one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives. He, along with his accomplice Dr. John Watson, solves mysteries and cracks incredibly intricate cases. In The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, however, Holmes finally meets his match in 15-year-old egotistical Mary Russell in this story of mystery. The novel is an enticing adventure about looking behind the obvious to see what lies behind the seemingly coincidental whodunit.
Set in 1915, in Britain, Mary has her nose in a book while accidentally stumbling upon Sherlock Holmes, who, tired of the constant adventure in London, had decided to take up raising bees in a quiet Sussex estate. Over time, Holmes and Mary start to grow closer, creating a mentor-tutor bond between the unexpected duo. Russell, intellectual as much as she was gawky, had been accepted to Oxford in the year of 1917, fresh from Holmes’ lessons.
In 1918, the American senator’s daughter Jessica Simpson had been kidnapped and there was no one better to call on the case than Holmes, who takes Mary on her first international case. However, while rescuing her, they start to realize this plot ran much deeper than they thought. They start to follow a mystery that takes them across the world, across cryptic codes for them to uncover a tale intertwined in the middle of forbidden fate.
The setting is rich and vivid, filled with lots of details about life in the early 1900s. Every scene is packed with action, either emotionally or physically. I especially enjoyed the point of view and the distinct personalities of the characters, Mary’s especially strong personality resonating with me and many other coming-of-age adolescents, not to mention being especially empowering for young girls such as myself. Being a mystery genre aficionado, I went into this expecting to find many hints and this book failed to disappoint. The foreshadowing towards the end of the adventure was expertly done, with little clues being dropped in the most unexpected of places.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. With its witty conversations and monologue, engaging prose, and relatable characters, The Beekeeper's Apprentice will leave you hanging tight on to the edge of your cover until the very last reveal.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Picador USA, 2014. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!